PUEBLO — When some restaurant owners heard "Level Blue" they thought the news was too good to be true.
"I really didn't believe it!" said Mauriel Scher, the Owner of Squawk Coffee in Pueblo. Over the weekend, the county announced that Pueblo would be moving from Level Orange on the COVID-19 dial to Level Blue. Pueblo completely skipped over Level Yellow on the state's dial, allowing indoor dining to jump from 25% to 50% capacity.
“Feels like we’re finally moving in the right direction where for so long it kinda just seemed like we were treading water," said Scher. The coffee shop opened up their upstairs dining, since Level Blue allows them to have up to 10 customers in the shop, as opposed to four when in Level Orange.
HAPPY #REBOUND MONDAY 🎊: I’m at Squawk Coffee today & they’ve JUST opened up a whole new section for indoor dining, now that #Pueblo is in Level Blue! + @ElizabethWatts5 will be in Springs highlighting restaurants bouncing back from the pandemic! All tonight on @KOAA pic.twitter.com/4o5Rrhg6kS— Natalie Chuck KOAA (@NatalieChuck) February 8, 2021
Just down the street, Papa Jose's rush hour for lunch almost looked like a scene from 2019, pre-pandemic. Roughly six tables and 20 people were allowed inside to enjoy their meals. The last time News5 caught up with Papa Jose's, the restaurant did not even have tables set up for indoor dining, only their new outdoor patio.
“The fact that we were able to jump from orange to blue all in one step was very good news and kinda shows that we’re headed in the right direction,” said Owner Michael Pacheco.
Pacheco says Papa Jose's found out about the shift in the dial on Sunday, and spent Monday prepping the restaurant for guests. From the looks of the dining room and smiling customers, their hustle paid off.
“There’s so much good food here in Pueblo to enjoy, and it’s not the same as it is on a takeout, I’m sorry but it just is better, it’s warmer, it’s more enjoyable eating here at the restaurant!" said one customer.
Being in Level Blue also means that restaurants last-call can be as late as midnight now, instead of 10:00 pm.
In just November, Pueblo was one of the worst cities in America for rises in COVID-19 cases per day, reaching over 6,000. As of yesterday, the county saw a rise in cases of just barely over 1,000 n 24 hours.