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Restaurant owners say outdoor heaters are 'beginning to add up'

Outdoor dining heaters
Posted at 10:48 PM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 00:48:14-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you would have asked owner and chef of Red Gravy, Eric Brenner, how he envisioned the turnout for outdoor dining to be just a few weeks ago, he would have said, "We just didn't see how it was going to work with the cold weather, snow and everything," said Brenner.

However, Brenner says he was prepared for whatever the case might be.

So, out of his own pocket, Brenner purchased a couple heaters and propane tanks.

"At the end of the day we are just trying to do whatever we can to keep people coming downtown and to see we are working every day," said Brenner.

Brenner says the demand for propane has been so high that it's been difficult to even find a place to refill his tanks.

"I have a little liquor store near my house in Manitou. I worked a deal out with the guy who works there so I don't have to deal with the big box stores. We are friends and I will call him and just tell him what I need, the supply, and he will get them for me," said Brenner.

It's something most restaurants that have chosen to continue their outdoor dining are facing.

"Definitely worth it, but definitely costly for the staff at the same time," said Cooper Davidson, bar manager of Jack Quinn.

Davidson says it costs the owner roughly $20 to refill each propane tank.

"There are sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights where he is going multiple times a day to get the three to four re-filled," said Davidson.

While most days the owner will spend nearly $100 refilling the tanks, Davidson says it's been worth it while the customers have continued to come in.

"How can we make our patio work, our certain amount of tables work, our limited amount of seating outside," said Davidson.

Because if it were not for the customers, "Your support is keeping us alive right now," said Davidson.

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