Lariat Marquee

The Lariat’s changing marquee told the tale of a quickly evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as guidance on social distancing, then official restrictions on bars and restaurants led the restaurant to cancel its live music bookings, then close its dining rooms while offering take-out. SEE LIST of restaurants offering take out.

While restaurants and bars in Buena Vista were making voluntary modifications to their business plans, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all bars and restaurants in the state would need to close or limit their service to take out or delivery only for 30 days.

“These steps are very painful for the state and they might be an inconvenience for you as a customer, but imagine how difficult they are for the workers and owners of these establishments. The goal is to reduce the severity and duration of this public health crisis,” Polis said.

Lariat co-owner Robbie Johnson said the restaurant and entertainment venue’s business model had been changing almost hourly as she and Court Johnson watched developements unfold and discussed how they would impact the town – right up until Polis’ announcement.

“This was all completely unchartered territory for us all,” Robbie said of the owners and their staff.

“One of the very special things about Buena Vista is people do have a great sense of community,” Johnson said. “We’re all very interdependent in this town. When one business hurts, we all do.”

As of late Tuesday afternoon, The Lariat had been forced to furlough 46 staff.

“We’re grateful to be able offer to-go service,” she said. “That will help us keep a few people on staff, at least a little. All tips will be collected and used in a fund to help assist the staff through these tough times ahead.”

“If take-out business is brisk, we can bring more staff back in,” Johnson said.

Jan’s Restaurant on U.S. Highway 24 had intended to keep its doors open before Polis’s announcement came down, owner Jan Delp said. On Tuesday, the restaurant began operating with minimal staff, offering curbside take out and delivery.

“We’re doing everything we can here as far as sanitizer and hand sanitizer. The tables and the condiments we wiped down hourly with Lysol and water. We’ve been doing everything we can,” Delp said. “We have one person and two cooks to run the whole restaurant, the rest of them we had to lay off … I’m so worried because I’ve got 25 employees. I just cried last night because I’ve got so many people that depend on this restaurant.”

At Eddyline, the restaurant was following CDC recommendations on social distancing by removing half of the tables from their dining area, allowing for greater space between patrons. On Tuesday, following the governor’s announcement, the restaurant and brew pub locations moved to carry-out only.

At the Surf Hotel and Surf Chateau, the Wesley & Rose restaurant is closed to dine-in customers, but is offering carry-out, as well as in-room delivery to guests of the hotel, owner Jed Selby said.

The hotel is keeping each room vacant for 72 hours between guests to ensure the virus – if it was ever introduced to the room – dies before another person comes in contact with it.

“Obviously, safety is everybody’s primary concern. At the same time, this is a very real threat to all of our employees, and the trickle-down impact is huge. It’s our suppliers, it’s all of the vendors that we work with.

“There’s direct and indirect employment that occurs with something like a hotel,” Selby said. “And it’s hitting a lot of people, especially in a town like BV that has a fairly large percentage of its population that works in the service industry. This is going to be incredibly impactful.”

Johnson noted that she had seen someone suggest on Facebook that people could buy gift cards from local businesses to help keep them afloat and be used after the health crisis has passed.

“Thank you so much to that person for posting that,” Johnson said. “Those gift cards could help us and other businesses support their payroll. It might only bring in a few staff for a few hours, but every little bit is going to be needed.

“Our community is really BV Strong, just like community dinner. We really do rally around each other.”

Times editor Dave Schiefelbein contributed to this report.

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