AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Businesses at the Stanley Marketplace began operating under new restrictions Wednesday as Adams County entered Safer at Home Level 3 because of rising cases of COVID-19. Owners of restaurants say they are already making adjustments that keep them at the requirements for the new restrictions but they worry about another shutdown if the coronavirus is not under control soon.
“We’re blessed with our guests always wanting to get a touch of what we offer as well as the other businesses in the area,” said Erasmo Casiano, the chef and owner at Create Cooking School. “We’re moving with the tides here, that’s all we can do as a business owners.”
He opened his business almost two years ago and he says the start of 2020 was a solid beginning for the new company. Their open concept kitchen allows for people to take classes in groups, they also have a bar that serves craft cocktails and wine. They were booked well into the summer, when the pandemic forced them to make major changes.
They do have an open space that helps them maintain safety standards for distancing. Tables are six feet long and masks are required when not eating. Last year during the holiday season they saw as many as 50 people in their space but now they must significantly reduce their customers at any given time. They have virtual classes, they spread out sessions, and sometimes ask people to come back once the capacity goes down again. They even have to-go kits as well as drinks for takeout.
“There’s not enough loving of lemonade to like what’s happening right now or enjoy it in anyway,” said Rayme Rossello, the owner of Comida. “The part that makes a huge difference of course is are people comfortable enough to still keep coming out.”
Comida has been a part of the Stanley Marketplace since it opened in 2016. They closed in March during the Stay at Home order but Rossello paid her salaried employees during the closure. She had to furlough her remaining staff, sold her food supplies and donated what people didn’t buy. Since then she has had a takeout option and improved outdoor seating with a tenant and heating. She currently seats approximately 38 people in her dining room, well below the capacity limit before the most recent change. Now the requirement is 25 percent of total capacity, which is 35 people for her restaurant.
“I feel really strongly about the fact that shutting completely down is not the right thing to do,” she told CBS4 on Wednesday. “Closing again is not tenable, there’s nothing about closing again that’s going to help anybody, I don’t believe.”
The new guidelines have required staff to remove some indoor seating in common areas. But there remain a variety of options for food spots including to-go from outside the building, heated outdoor seating, and dine-in service.
“This year has been wild but we’ve been really lucky to have a devoted group of guests who come to Stanley regularly, and who go out of their way to support our locally owned small businesses,” said Bryant Palmer, chief storyteller for Stanley Marketplace. “That’s been a real blessing and one of the reasons why we’re still here.”
Another level of restrictions requires the Stanley Marketplace to be ready to adjust but the group of businesses have navigated the changes as they come in the past seven months. They even notified the public days before the change and made sure customers knew what was coming on Wednesday.
“I think we are as stable as we can be right now, we’ve gotten a great response from our community,” Palmer told CBS4 on Wednesday. “We’ve gone out of our way to make sure we’re being safe, following every health and safety guideline and then some.”
All the businesses said they will work with county and state leaders to keep their community safe and meet the necessary restrictions. But they’ve lived through one Stay at Home order and they do not think they can survive another.
“We think about worst case scenarios all the time,” he said. “The biggest thing we want to avoid is another shutdown, that would be detrimental to our small businesses here.”