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KOAA Survey: Are you supporting local businesses by dining outdoors?

Survey on Indoor Dining
Posted at 9:20 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 11:20:20-05

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, businesses are being impacted financially and by restrictions through the holiday season.

With indoor dining closed, do you plan on supporting local businesses this winter by taking advantage of outdoor dining options?

We're following this poll throughout the day and into tomorrow. Tune in to News5 at 4 p.m. as we review the results!

Editor's note: This poll is not based on scientific, representative samples and is solely for KOAA purposes.

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Are you a local business wanting to reach customers? Click here to join our list of We're Open: Businesses and Restaurants ready to serve you.

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As colder weather moves into El Paso County, restaurant owners now have to contend with that as well as no indoor dining and 8 p.m. last call. But thanks to grants from the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, restaurants along Tejon have been able to make adjustments to survive and rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants have helped eateries purchase open flame heaters to help keep their customers warm as well as blankets. Jack Quinn's Irish Pub and Restaurant bought three heaters for outdoor dining, but colder temperatures are still having a huge impact on business.

"Monday we had a nice day on the patio and I had a full patio for a lot of the day. Today, I've had two tables out there that braved it. We've got the heaters going, but they're in coats and everything. It started spitting snow and they decided it's too chilly now and they left, but I was happy to get the two," said Meredith Klube, Manager of Jack Quinn's Irish Pub and Restaurant.

Even with the heaters and blankets, Klube says it's still unclear how they're going to get through winter, especially if COVID-19 restrictions continue to tighten.

"We're so hopeful that people will see how much we need the support and decide to brave it and come out with the blankets. We've invested in heaters, but sometimes it's too chilly and people are uncomfortable," said Klube.

With no indoor dining and weather expected to impact business, they've decided to start their own delivery service. To not only help employees keep working but to boost profit.

"Using a third-party delivery service takes a big chunk of Jack Quinn's," said Klube. "Go to jackquinnspub.com, order online, select which items you want, put in your address, and select delivery or pickup. Right now our radius is five miles, but I think we are going to expand that to ten miles this week to be able to get more of the city."

To help local eateries come winter, The Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs has begun creating "parklets" that would occupy parking spaces.

"We are offering grants up to $2,000 to assist in the construction of parklets, specifically on parking spaces," said Alex Armani-Munn, Economic Development Specialist for the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs. "We're working with park and enterprise, working with them to see how it could work for not only the restaurants but with retailers that rely on that street parking."

Armani-Munn says they've been working with architects who've volunteered their time to help with designs and plan to give businesses base designs so they can add amenities.

"One thing that's tricky about navigating these solutions is that you want to avoid creating a replicated indoor environment that presents the same challenges that are currentlyaffecting indoor capacity at restaurants, We want these parklets to be comfortable whether that's offering shade, helping to block wind or supporting outdoor heaters," said Armani-Munn.

He says there will be some structural components that vary between restaurants. Right now they're requesting interested businesses submit a letter of interest so they can see gauge the number of parklets needed. They can submit their letter via email at alex@downtowncs.com or reach out to the organization with any questions or concerns.

As soon as they get letters of interest, Armani-Munn says they'll start working with the city's urban development office, El Paso County Health, and other agencies to ensure the proposal is licensed. They're hoping to get the parklets done in the next few weeks to help with colder temperatures.

Eric Brenner, Executive Chef and Owner of Red Gravy, says the parklets will definitely help during this time of no indoor dining and colder weather.

"It would allow, depending on the space we have, maybe four to six tables and that will give us what we essentially had indoors. We have the ability with those to partially cover them and ensure airflow comes through but also get warm pockets of air," said Brenner.
While the parklets are meant to be short-term use, Brenner hopes they stick around for a long time.

"I just think it's great to be able to offer more outdoor dining. As with anything in the city, it's just a matter of balancing the cost of parking, the cost of doing business, and the tax revenue from doing business," said Brenner.

His restaurant has also been utilizing heaters and blankets, even selling t-shirts and hoodies to help business and keep their customers warm. They're also working on an extended patio coming in a few months, and that's not all they're planning to do.

"We're definitely going to have more heaters, but I've been looking into ways we can superheat our plates so that when they go outside they're nice and warm," said Brenner.

He recommends customers call ahead of time and order their food so they can cut down on wait time when it's cold outside.