Denver restaurants have busy Thursday night as thousands of workers prepare to be furloughed

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — At Tavernetta near Union Station, the reservations filled up early Thursday afternoon. Diners were seeking one final night of indoor dining before Level Red restrictions go into effect Friday. 

For restaurant staff like Seth Crane, it was an emotional evening: one final shift before unemployment.

“Starting after tonight, we’ll all be furloughed,” he said. “It’s a trying time.”

Crane and tens of thousands of Coloradans in the service industry have been through this before. 

When restaurants closed earlier this year, many filed for unemployment, while cashing federal stimulus checks to make ends meet.

This time, those federal checks aren’t coming in the mail. 

“I was fortunate to be given some at the beginning,” says Crane. “We need more. That’s all I can say is, we need more.”

Owner Bobby Stuckey made the decision to furlough most of his 165 employees.

He estimates he’ll only need about six to perform to-go duties at Tavernetta.

“That call is the hardest call that you can make,” he says. “There’s absolutely nothing I can do.”

Stuckey has been pushing for the federal government to pass a restaurant stimulus package as more states increase restrictions.

“There needs to be action on the federal level or this doesn’t work,” he says.

The state is expecting a surge of unemployment applications Friday and is working on plans to expedite the process for those who already applied in the spring. 

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