By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – Downtown Denver restaurants and bars are on the cusp of a bounceback from the COVID-19 pandemic as the city fully reopens. Business owners were ecstatic to learn Ball Arena can now host full capacity Nuggets and Avalanche games as well as concerts. That, in combination with the MLB All Star Game at Coors Field in July, is setting the scene for a major opportunity.

“Denver is back,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

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Ball Arena

(credit: CBS)

With the reintroduction of large crowds to arenas and stadiums downtown, many outside agencies are looking at Denver’s bounce back with envy. The Denver Nuggets will host nearly 19,000 fans for the second round of the playoffs. The All Star Game is expected to sell out all events. And, the Avalanche are on the brink of advancing as well.

“We have so much going on,” Door said. “How could you not be jealous of Denver if you are another city in this country.”

Demand at local restaurants and bars has already increased. Businesses like Coohills, a restaurant and bar directly across the street from Ball Arena, have seen more demand as of late than they can keep up with.

“Definitely back for business,” said Tom Coohill, chef and owner of the restaurant.

Tom Coohill

(credit: CBS)

Coohill told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas his sales were down by 80% at the height of the pandemic. His location often caters to people who park in the building’s garage before events, grab food and drinks, and then head over to Ball Arena.

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Now, with thousands making their way to the arena once again each night, Coohill said he cannot hire enough people to meet the demand.

“The problem is the staffing, not the volume. Because now the volume is there, we just need to get the staffing,” Coohill said.

Restaurants across the state are having difficult times filling their staff. Among several factors, some people say they are making more money on unemployment than they were filling shifts. Because of his inability to find servers and cooks, Coohill said he is now the one restricting his own capacity, not the government.

“We are cutting our business we could do in half because we don’t have the bodies,” Coohill said.

Coohill said a full staff could help him make a triumphant return to business in 2021 with the emergence of full capacity venues.

Socialites, like Julie Dahl, said they were not concerned with their own health when it comes to large venue events.

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“For me, I am ready to be around people, I am ready for live music. I am super excited,” Dahl said. “I am ready to live life a little bit.”

Dillon Thomas