DENVER (CBS4) – One Denver restaurant is taking a unique approach to winter operations by closing its dining room until the spring. Brightmarten in Bonnie Brae shut down in early October and will reopen for takeout on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays beginning Oct. 15.
“It’s really tough to close our doors and tell diners that they can’t eat here because that’s not why we opened a restaurant,” said Wade Nelson, a co-owner and barkeep at Brightmarten. “We’re trying to maintain some control in a situation that you can’t really control.”
The group of owners got together and had a lengthy discussion about what winter dining would look like during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Instead of buying tents and heaters and encouraging people to embrace the cold weather to still have a night out, Brightmarten is hoping people will eat in. Takeout and small private events will be the focus for the next few months.
“We figure we can really manage our costs if we know exactly what we’re going to make for rent. So, next week we have three events planned. We know how much we’re going to get paid for each event, we know how much we can pay for labor and how much we can pay for product and what can go back to rent and pay the bills,” Nelson said.
“Is this the right decision? Who knows. Time will tell, but it’s the way we can at least manage and we’re not going to keep depleting our funds while we go through the winter.”
The plan came together as owners looked back at how they survived the early days of the pandemic. When restaurants were allowed to operate but with now capacity, Brightmarten started making a daily menu it would post online. Quickly, an online following caught on.
“We had a lot of people that hit that website every day and would call at two o’clock. We had people eating here five days a week,” Nelson said. “Most people understand, for us to last to the spring and be able to reopen we need to still have money in the bank when it comes.”
Nelson and his co-owners are hoping their paired down operation can stay afloat and a potentially better concept can blossom in the future.
“Our overall goal is to be open and be functioning and to have people in here and make people happy,” he said.