LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Businesses on Main Street in Louisville who benefitted from outside seating all summer called for city leaders to extend the option into November as customers continue to feel safer eating and drinking on a patio. The city announced Thursday afternoon it would keep the setup well into next month as they transition to a winter plan for the popular stretch of the eastern Boulder County town.
“That’s been our savior all summer,” said John Howland, the owner and head brewer of 12Degree Brewing. “It’s created kind of a nice vibe out here as well so people have really enjoyed it.”
He opened his location on Main Street in the summer of 2013 as a neighborhood brewpub that hoped to become a community gathering spot. But 2020 forced a change in their business operations, moving to online sales and to-go orders. The warmer weather brought the opportunity for the street with restaurants on either side to transform into an outdoor dining option that allowed for more social distancing.
“Some people are comfortable inside, on nice days we try to keep the door open, keep the air flowing, but very few tables,” he told CBS4 on Thursday. “I feel like people, especially in Colorado, where we get so many sunny days, so many mild days, people seem happier sitting outside even if it’s a little chilly, than sitting inside.”
Car traffic will return in the next few weeks, but outdoor dining will remain throughout the winter in the downtown neighborhood, city staff explained in an emailed to CBS4 on Thursday. Parking spots on the street can still be used for seating and the city will explore “grab ‘n’ go” spaces as well.
“So it feels like what we’re trying to do is buy time until there’s a vaccine,” Howland said. “Until things start creeping back to normal.”
He says business is only at 60 percent of what it normally would be, but the outdoor seating is a huge part of their current income. They have fewer tables inside but will consider adding plexiglass to help increase seating. They may also work to package their beer — even though some small brewpubs can or bottle their products, it so far hasn’t been part of 12Degree Brewing’s business plan.
“Squeezing every little bit out of outdoor seating is what we’d love to do,” he said.