DENVER (CBS4) – As Gov. Jared Polis announced a statewide mask mandate for people inside public spaces, Chris Fuselier declared victory. The Denver restaurateur has been pleading for weeks on social media for the governor to take action and make a blanket regulation across the entire state.
“This is about public health and it’s the right thing to do,” Fuselier said on the parking-lot-turned-beer-garden outside of the Blake Street Tavern, which he owns.
“You’re protecting restaurant workers, retail workers, grocery store workers but you’re also making patrons feel more safe… when they go to a place everyone else is wearing a mask, too.”
Dozens of companies and their executives from different business sectors supported the statewide order.
The pandemic and ensuing economic downturn has been harsh on Fuselier and the Blake Street Tavern. The enormous sports bar has a capacity of 900 people. Without sports, it closed for a few weeks. Now back open, it has a capacity of 100 people because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re down exactly $1.8 million in four months. It’s just devastating,” Fuselier said. “We’re fighting for our survival. And we need every tool we can to survive.”
As wait staff, cooks, and managers handle new sanitation practices and spacing, the staff was also having to deal with customers not willing to comply with mask requirements.
“We had a couple incidents this past weekend that were really disturbing. My workers had to be the mask cops, they’ve got enough to worry about,” Fuselier said.
The hope is now that a uniform regulation will gain more compliance. For Fuselier, he’s hoping that and the return of sports will bring customers back as well because he knows if coronavirus cases continue to rise, the restaurant could be forced to close again.
“I’m very concerned that the governor is going to follow what happened in New Mexico, California where they shut down indoor dinning. It’s crucial that we remain open the way it is,” he said.