Basalt restaurant owners, gyms come to grips with governor’s closure order
DELIVERING A MESSAGE
Hey Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt restaurant owners: Are you staying opening and offering pick up or delivery during the governor’s order? If so, send us your plans as we compile a list of eateries that are staying open. We will be posting the list online at aspentimes.com and we will run in The Aspen Times on select days. Email your location, times of operation and service plans to reporter Rick Carroll at email@example.com.
Basalt restaurateurs were trying to process Monday night the governor’s 30-day closure order announced earlier in the day and its effects on their livelihoods in the next month.
“The whole country is in lockdown, so what are you going to do?” asked Greg Jurgensen, owner of the Brick Pony bar and restaurant in downtown Basalt.
He was caught off-guard by the mandated closure and had recently placed a large order of food.
“I guess I started getting a bad feeling a couple of days ago, watching other places,” he said “I certainly didn’t think it would be for 30 days.”
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He said he will sit down with his chefs and determine if they want to revise their menu and concentrate on fewer dishes for take out.
“That’s probably something we’ll look into to keep money coming in,” Jurgensen said.
The problem with that approach, he said, is the Brick Pony provides a social atmosphere where friends meet for a drink. The ordered closure wipes out that appeal.
March is also a big month for restaurants and bars in Basalt. The mood starts shifting and people start coming out more often as winter melts away.
“It’s a big month and a huge hit,” Jurgensen said.
Rene Lujan, owner of Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar on Midland Avenue in Basalt, said he was trying to be optimistic about the ability to stay open. He had increased the distance between tables and ramped up an already thorough cleaning routine.
“I did cancel all my music,” he said. “That killed me.”
The restaurant brings in local musicians several nights per week. That draws people, so Lujan said he voluntarily decided to scale it back so avoid crowds.
He also expected people to use common sense and take personal responsibility — not venturing out if they were sick, honoring the social distancing and taking other precautions.
Nevertheless, he said he could understand the order.
“I believe in safety,” he said. “We don’t want a huge epidemic.”
The restaurant announced Monday it was expanding its take-out menu but Lujan said he didn’t see the governor’s order coming. Both he and Jurgensen expressed concern for their employees over the next month since both establishments will be down to skeleton staffs. Lujan said it will hurt businesses to cover their expenses while watching revenue shrink.
“Payroll’s just around the corner. People need to get paid,” he said.
Scott Picard of Sure Thing Burger in the Willits neighborhood said the establishment will “continue to offer great food every day.”
Sure Thing will launch an online mobile ordering program with curbside pick-up soon. Until then, he is urging customers to order by phone.
“We will make it work,” Picard said. “It’s what we do.”
Amanda Wagner, owner of TAC Fitness, a popular gym in Willits, had made adjustments that she and her staff felt minimized risk while continuing to provide a place for customers to workout. They were starting to limit class sizes and the amount of customers inside at one time as well as reducing hours.
“I think my biggest concern is my employees and the community — especially with the snow coming,” she said.
TAC will adapt by using online tools to offer classes and workouts for customers, she said.
Wagner is also chair of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. There is a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday. The topic will be exclusively the cornonavirus’ effect on business.
The chamber is providing resources about the health crisis in one place on its website. Information will be posted as quickly as possible about state and federal financial resources for business owners and employees during the closure, she said.
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Pitkin County public health authorities increased social distancing restrictions for residents Wednesday and lengthened the amount of time they will be in place until the end of April.