COLORADO SPRINGS — With El Paso County moving into level orange COVID-19 restrictions Friday, restaurants, bars and other businesses had to reduce their indoor capacity to 25 percent. But can they get by?
“No. … No,” said Robert Burnet, owner of Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen on the Springs’ far north side.
It was always his dream to open a restaurant.
“We started Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen in 2013,” Burnet said.
His dream-come-true became an instant success. It was so successful, he had to move to a bigger place in January 2020.
“We were open for seven weeks and then we got shut down,” he said.
But restrictions loosened and things were getting better, until recently.
“We were probably back up to 75 or 80 percent of our regular business,” Burnet said. “And this next surge that they’re talking about has probably dropped us down to about 50 percent.”
While on Friday the Governor Polis offered some hope that a full on shutdown isn’t likely, the current restrictions are bad enough for burnet.
“Last time I checked my landlord didn’t reduce my rent by 75 percent,” he said. “The electric company’s not reducing my bill by 75 percent.”
He doesn’t want to speculate how long he can last at 25 percent.
“I’m not a half empty glass of water type of person,” he said. “I’m looking for ways to continue filling the glass.”
Josh Franklin is also a glass half full kind of guy.
“If we start out small, it’s only going to get better,” Franklin said.
On the same day capacity was reduced to 25 percent, he and business partner John Wolfe cut the ribbon on “Icons,” their new bar in downtown Colorado Springs.
Believe it or not, they started planning their business after the pandemic started.
“We’re Broadway performers from New York,” Franklin said. “And It just so happened New York shut down.”
But they knew they had demand.
“The fact that there was not a gay bar in the downtown area was mind boggling to us,” Franklin said.
Which is why they have faith in their customers to keep them afloat.
“I think we would’ve been foolish to not expect this,” he said.
Back at Momma Pearl’s, Chef Burnet makes his faith in customers loud and clear.
“If you really want to support that restaurant, and you want to see them here after the pandemic, you’re the one that’s gonna save them,” Burnet said.