By Jamie Leary

BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Gina Von Ah and her staff have finally found a rhythm providing take out for La Estrellita, just in time for everything to change.

“We’ve already started measuring out the tables and getting prepared… it’s been a pretty stressful day actually,” said Von Ah, owner of the Brighton Mexican restaurant.

(credit: CBS)

Her father opened the restaurant in 1986. Closing was not an option during the coronavirus pandemic, but she has her concerns about transitioning to a limited capacity. On Tuesday, she invited CBS4 to take a peek at preparations.

“It’s going to be difficult. You’ll see when you actually go into the restaurant that one of our sections is full of takeout boxes just because we’ve been doing so much volume and so it’s going to be interesting coming back,” she said.

The restaurant will open its patio space with indoor dining to follow. Von Ah wants to see how dining on the patio goes first.

(credit: CBS)

“One of the things is, when you’re a full service restaurant, you depend on table turn and so when you have half of your tables, it’s a big issue because you still need the employees to occupy … for instance, the dishwashing. Now we have bussers and we have servers and we have hosts …”

The list goes on. Von Ah says it’s essentially full capacity staff even though it’s at just 50% capacity.

Despite her uncertainty, she says staff have been prepping for this day for some time. They’re ready to go with hand sanitizing stations and wipes. Employees have daily temperature checks, and menus have been changed to disposable ones.

The list of guidelines La Estrellita and other restaurants across Colorado are expected to follow are strict; no more than eight people per table with each table separated by a distance of at least 6 feet.

La Estrellita says people have been calling off the hook to make reservations, but it doesn’t plan to take them. On Wednesday, it will seat people on a first come first serve basis.

(credit: CBS)

“We’ll just see how it goes, but I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be madness,” Von Ah smiled nervously.

She said even though it’s been difficult to keep up with the change, she’s excited to get back to semi-normal.

“On social media? Everyone’s just so excited to have us back open. They’ll be like, ‘We will be in line! We’ll be the first ones through the door!’ I don’t think it’s going to be awkward at all. I think everyone’s going be like, ‘ahhh’ it just feels great to be back to normal. Whatever that looks like.”

Visit the restaurant’s website at

Jamie Leary


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