By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Safta Restaurant joined a national effort on Monday to serve members of the hospitality industry displaced from the coronavirus outbreak by providing family meals and household supplies. The restaurant will make 300 meals each day for unemployed workers in need of help while many businesses are closed or operating on a limited capacity.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s really great, we’re all so happy to do it,” said Liliana Myers, the head pastry chef at Safta. “We’ve been trying to base it on things that I would cook if I was cooking for myself.”

The restaurant kept busy just as the coronavirus response started to affect the industry in Colorado. Located inside The Source Hotel in Denver’s River North Arts District, Myers said they saw business start to slow down once there were more cases reported publicly. It eventually came to a halt before they could reemerge as a “to-go” or delivery option.

(credit: CBS)

While many lost their job once dine-in customers were not allowed, some were brought back. More will be working at Safta now that it has launched this relief program.

“It’s just really awesome to be able to do something for the community in Denver because everyone has been so affected to varying degrees,” Myers said.

The LEE Initiative started in Louisville, Kentucky and works on more diversity, training and equality in restaurants. The initiative stands for Let’s Empower Employment, the organization partnered with Maker’s Mark Bourbon to create relief centers across the country including Safta in Denver.

“For people in this industry that tend to live paycheck to paycheck, not having even one is detrimental to your rent, to your car payment, to just everything honestly and it really puts us in a very uncertain area,” Myers said.

She points out that everyone in the industry is affected, some more than others. Not all restaurants were able to offer takeout.

Safta gave its inventory to employees that they worried might go to waste. Myers also explained to CBS4 that restaurants operate on small margins and their financial obligations are high each month. She worries that some will be in trouble going a long period of time without revenue and still needing to pay rent and other expenses.

“The fact that we get to do this is great, the fact that we get to have all these amazing cooks back here in order to help provide all these meals,” she said. “If we weren’t doing this, I’d be on unemployment like everyone else.”

For the first meal, she helped to prepare corn bread and chili for workers coming to their restaurant. She also planned to make some chocolate chip cookies as they make food each day for the next two weeks. Myers wanted to encourage the public to keep supporting the restaurant industry as much as they can, ordering from local businesses so they can remain in a position to re-open when orders from the city and state are lifted.

“If you want to still have all those restaurants, you got to show them that support, you got to show them that love,” she said.


Shawn Chitnis