FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The COVID-19 pandemic forced 90,000 restaurants to close around the country, and those that are open still face challenges. One northern Colorado restaurant beat the odds and opened at the start of the pandemic and still found a way to survive.
Sabrina Hulm and her husband Craig Henry followed their dream to start JoJo’s BBQ in Fort Collins. But just as they opened their doors last year, growing coronavirus cases shut down much of the economy.
“It got a little scarier and scarier as each day went by, the news changed,” Henry said.
They had to close their small dining area and focused instead on delivery and takeout.
“Our growth might be low and slow, but we’re just grateful to be here and we’re grateful to have a business,” says Hulm.
11.5% of restaurants have shut down permanently since the coronavirus pandemic started, according to research company Datassential. Challenges for restaurants that remain open include a lack of workers, higher costs, and delivery delays.
Sean Kennedy with the National Restaurant Association is asking Congress to deliver another round of relief to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. “Restaurants are still dealing with a crushing amount of debt that they’ve taken on over the past 15 months when they were forced to be closed,” he says. “This project could be an absolute lifeline for the restaurant industry, the nation’s second-largest private sector employer.”
JoJo’s is housed inside Munchies Food Market, which allowed them to stay open through the pandemic when so many others could not survive. The restaurant is dealing with rising prices for meat, but they hope business will pick up now that Americans are experiencing a new taste of normalcy.