Aspen businesses keeping their acts clean
Clean living in Aspen has been evident this week.
But if you’re Jimmy Yeager, the owner of a downtown restaurant, it should always be that way in the service industry.
“It’s pretty simple: It’s practice good hygiene and go about your business as normal,” Yeager said Tuesday, as townsfolk and visitors awaited the results of the tests for 10 Australians quarantined who were possibly exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
“We’re in a town where you constantly hear that the stomach flu is going around, a stomach bug is going around, whatever,” added Yeager, who has run Jimmy’s An American Restaurant & Bar since 1997. “This is not new and we’re treating it like it’s not any different and continue to practice good hygiene.”
Business as usual was something several people said Tuesday, but there’s no mistaking that Aspen has had a different vibe this week given the news that an Australian woman who recently visited town tested positive for the COVID-19 virus when she returned home.
She was here with a group of 18 Australians, not all of whom were tested or reported experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties — all of which are symptoms associated with the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
Another locally owned Aspen business downtown, Paradise Bakery, has made some adjustments such as no longer offering complimentary samples of muffins and cookies on the shop counter.
Owner Mark Patterson said the move was an easy measure to take, and it’s better to play it safe at a time when the news is in flux and speculation and rumors abound.
“It’s just a heightened awareness,” he said.
Paradise and other coffee shops also aren’t filling customers’ reusable mugs to limit personal contact between employees and the public.
Like Yeager, Patterson said Aspen is accustomed to flu season, so the practices needed to keep the illness at bay — washing hands and wiping counters, for instance — are fairly standard.
“We’re aware of how stuff spreads because we’re conscious of the flu season,” he said, adding “it’s amazing how there is something new every day.”
Donnie Lee, who manages The Gant condominium-hotel, said employees are to stay home if they’re running a fever or showing other signs. That can take its toll on the human side of the operation, he said, because The Gant, like other Aspen businesses, runs on lean staffs.
Lee said he has emphasized to his employees that because the virus is “so easily transmitted from person to person,” keeping a clean operation is essential.
“We are operating under a heightened sense of caution,” he said.
The Gant has seen a few canceled reservations because of coronavirus, but Lee said his greater concern is the lack of reservations moving forward.
“We’re not really getting any new reservations,” he said. “That has really slowed down.”
The remodel of Limelight Hotel Aspen took about six months to complete, but settling more than $3.4 million in overdue debts related to the project has taken twice the time so far.