In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic clobbered restaurants and retailers in Colorado Springs, leading to dozens of temporary and permanent closures. This past year appears to have been less devastating for businesses, even as the pandemic continues to cast a long shadow.
“I think we saw the bulk of what was going to happen by the first quarter of this year,” Jay Carlson, managing broker and principal with Springs brokerage Front Range Commercial, said of 2021 closings. “And then, I think the ones that are still standing have figured out a way to make it work, at least for the time being.”
Though specific numbers of closings are hard to come by, restaurants appeared especially better off this year because they were allowed to keep their dining rooms open, Carlson said.
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From mid-March until late May in 2020, Gov. Jared Polis ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms as a means of combatting the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, many restaurants struggled, relying on carryout and delivery orders. Some didn’t survive.
Restaurant dining rooms were allowed to reopen in May, but only at 50% capacity. By November 2020, however, dining room capacities were reduced again and they were ordered closed late that month.
“Last year was so destabilizing to the entire (restaurant) industry that it shook so many loose and then so many had to close their doors,” said Dan Rodriguez, a vice president with the local office of CBRE, a national real estate firm.
Dining room restrictions were eased in January and lifted altogether by the spring. The relaxation of those capacity limits helped more restaurants avoid closure.
“I think 2021 is much better for the restaurant industry because they were allowed to be open, mainly,” Carlson said. “We worked ourselves into a situation via the vaccines and whatever else, where the government decided it was OK for us to go back out.
The restaurants that were able to stay open, Rodriguez added, are “leaner and meaner, a little bit bruised and a little bit beaten, but have figured out how to make money in a weird environment, how to continue on and do things they haven’t done before.”
But restaurants aren’t home free, Carlson said.
Though many diners have returned to restaurants, some remain reluctant to get out and gather socially, he said.
At the same time, many restaurants continue to struggle to hire employees, he said. As a result, some have kept their doors closed occasionally during the week because …….