GJ Chamber of Commerce Reflects on 5-Star Program


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.– Randy Gulden owned three restaurants in Grand Junction, all which were part of the mesa county 5-Star Variance program.

“It was a great program that enabled us to open inside dining, which I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have survived last year if that hadn’t been the case,” says Gulden.

But for one of the restaurants, the La Cabra Cantina, the help wasn’t quite enough and La Cabra closed its doors permanently in November of 2020.

“I think La Cabra was a little of a newer concept for us and it didn’t quite have the clientele as the other restaurants because the other two have been around for quite a while now,” says Gulden.

A representative of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says while the 5-Star Variance is a great program, there are a few things that could have gone differently. One is getting the program started sooner, and the other is doing a better job promoting the 5-Star businesses.

“The momentum that we have seen has not been driven by frankly anything that we are doing to market the program to consumers, it’s they themselves understanding this is where I can go, I can be safe, I can go to spend dollars locally,” says Diane Schwenke, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

Despite some of these issues, Gulden says the program not only helped keep his other businesses open, they also helped him keep his hard-working employees, and Gulden is grateful for that.

“It really was a great program and i really appreciate Grand Junction for making that happen and a lot of great people went into that,” says Gulden.

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