By Andrea Flores

DENVER (CBS4)– A recent survey released from the Colorado Restaurant Association says the industry has lost at least $3 billion so far in the pandemic. While Colorado’s comeback is in full swing, restaurants say profit will be hard to make back.

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The survey also found 43% of owners are down in revenue compared with pre-pandemic levels. More than 90% are struggling to hire staff back.

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School House Kitchen and Libations in Old Town Arvada says it will take time to get back to pre-pandemic service.

“I think restaurants are hopeful, terrified, and excited,” said Scott Spears. “It’s scary. We don’t want to get shut back down again, and it’s scary not being staffed up correctly.”

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With more people dining out, Spears says his limited staff is working hard to adjust.

“We went from 18 tables to 40 tables overnight, and we just can’t do that to our staff,” Spears said. “We’re teaching the kitchen how to make the food faster again, and pretty much everything, and retraining everyone to go back to a normal pace.”

With street closures in Old Town Arvada approved for the next five years, Spears hopes a mix of indoor and outdoor dining will help them get back on track.

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“There’s a lot of times that people are coming in right now and we have to keep tables open because our kitchen can’t handle it, and our staff can’t handle it,” said Spears. “It’s going to take a couple of weeks, a couple of months, but we’ll get there, but be patient.”

Andrea Flores