By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – Restaurants in need of help are getting it from the City of Denver. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure secured a $25,000 grant which is being used to help businesses in underrepresented areas of Denver.

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“This was actually my parking space and an employee parking spot. I was more than glad to give up my parking spot to expand the patio,” said Tor Ericksen, the owner of East Fax Tap, about the bar’s expanded patio which now features a metal roofed structure. “We just finished the roof on this yesterday.”

Ericksen feels lucky to get his patio finished for the winter just in time as indoor restrictions will begin on Friday.

“Part of the reason we wanted something with a galvanized steel roof was that we could put a heater under it and not need to move into a different fire code or fire permit,” he said. “It’s brought new customers in, they drive by and they see it.

The car port structure was secured with the help of community organizations working alongside city staff from multiple departments. The grant requires the money to be spent in neighborhoods the city has deemed most vulnerable to underinvestment and the effects of displacement.

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A city statement reads, “With the funds, DOTI helped Kahlos and La Chilanga in the Westwood neighborhood and Tacos Acapulco and East Fax in the East Colfax neighborhood create site plans, purchase materials such as roofing, patio tables, chairs, lighting, and heaters, and construct their new outdoor dining spaces.“

“This grant gave us resources to help them expand. We were able to give them access to resources that they weren’t going to be able to afford on their own,” said Monica Martinez, the Executive Director of The Fax Partnership, a non-profit promoting East Colfax. “They were excited that we could help them think about expanding and improving their patio, because they don’t have time to think proactively right now, they’re just reacting to COVID like so many of us are reacting to COVID.”

Ericksen is just hoping customers will still support his business as restrictions tighten around bars and restaurants.

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“Keeping the mom and pop places here and that’s all I want it to be,” he said. “Support your locals please because that’s the only reason I’m still here.”

Jeff Todd