DENVER — More than 250 restaurants in Colorado will receive a grant from the state’s Winter Outdoor Dining Fund to help them stay in operation and implement creative solutions to continue welcoming customers during the colder months.
On Tuesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA), the Colorado Restaurant Foundation, Xcel Energy, and the Xcel Energy Foundation announced the new round of grants through the Winter Outdoor Grant Program.
In total, the fund has raised $2,418,305 to help restaurants stay afloat. This money can be used toward “design, construction, applicable fees and supplies (ex: permit fees, tents, heaters),” according to the state.
The state may create a third round of grants depending on fundraising. There’s no timetable for that available as of Tuesday morning.
The grants are distributed through the Colorado Restaurant Foundation, a nonprofit that serves as the philanthropic arm of the Colorado Restaurant Association.
Several groups contribute to the Winter Outdoor Dining Fund, including the Colorado Health Foundation, MDC Holdings, New Belgium Brewing Company, DoorDash, Leprino Foods and the Denver Broncos Charitable Foundation. In addition, the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade allocated $500,000 from the Economic Development Council's Strategic Fund. The Colorado Health Foundation contributed $350,000 specifically for restaurant owners who are Black, indigenous and people of color.
Sonia Riggs, president and CEO at Colorado Restaurant Association, said they are appreciative of the funders who made the program possible.
"Restaurants have been telling us for months that they need cash and capacity to survive the pandemic,” Riggs said. “This program offered both: a way to expand seating during winter, and the means to pay for it. This is not a silver bullet - restaurants still need significant support if they are to make it to the other side of this crisis - but it certainly helped some restaurants keep their doors open for a few more months, and that gets them closer to the finish line."
The Winter Outdoor Grant Program is supported by the Xcel Energy Foundation and Xcel Energy, which contributed $500,000 to the Colorado Restaurant Association Foundation to support restaurants through the winter. Donations are welcome and for every $500,000 raised, Xcel will provide an additional $50,000, up to $250,000.
Click here for resources on winter outdoor dining design, with information ranging from energy use to marketing to furniture.