GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The COVID-19 pandemic has Colorado restaurants at 50% capacity, or up to 175 people, for indoor dining. In turn, the restrictions have restaurants expanding to outdoor seating, which has been popular this summer. However, as the temperature drops, some people are not as inclined to sit outdoors.
In addition, to assist with the challenges of capacity limits, popping up all over the Grand Valley are parklets, which are parking spots that are transformed into patios for dining, which as a result expands outdoor seating spots. The Colorado Department of Transportation has given Grand Junction a $47,000 grant to build a few parklets downtown on a first come first serve basis. Tim Babbit, owner of The Feisty Pint, has applied for a parklet, and if approved, he plans on buying heaters so people can enjoy the space during the winter.
Still, there are other restaurants in Downtown Grand Junction that will not be applying for this additional outdoor seating. For instance, The Goat and Clover Tavern did not apply for a parklet, and during the winter months, the restaurant will also close their outdoor tables. Brandon Cramer, the tavern’s general manager, says, “we will have to close our patio. It’s too cold for anyone to sit out there, so I don’t think anyone is going to want to sit out there in the winter. We will be restricted to social distancing inside.”
Even with social distancing, indoor dining raises some concerns with Mesa County Public Health. Jeff Kuhr from MCPH says, “you don’t know from place to place what you are going to get. It’s all about the ventilation system. I would like to see, as we go into winter, how we can heat those spaces up and still keep people outdoors.”
Babbit adds, “with this whole COVID thing, who knows anymore. Everything is up in the air.” Therefore, he plans on investing in space heaters for outdoor seating, and he hopes that it’ll bring more people to fill those seats even if it’s cold.