Eagle County restaurants and bars prepare to reopen dine-in services, with restrictions


DENVER (KDVR) — Before you even walk into Garfinkel’s, in Vail, you can start to see the changes.

“When you go out to eat now, things are going to be just a little bit different than what they used to be,” said owner Mike Dunlap.

Dunlap pointed out signs placed outside the longstanding bar and restaurant—one of which said “KEEP 6FT BETWEEN GROUPS.”

Along with signs, employees will be required to wear masks and gloves and wash their hands every 30 minutes.

Customers will now be required to order online—either before entering the restaurant, or after they’re seated.

“You order and pay so there’s completely contactless pay and contactless ordering process,” said Dunlap.

“You’ll have get some portion control condiments. The tables won’t be set. The menus will be disposable,” he added.

It’s part of a variance, granted to Eagle County on Friday, that allows restaurants and bars to open dine-in services on Memorial day—at half the capacity inside.

At Garfinkel’s, that would be about 80 people (not including outdoor seating).

“That’s great to us, income-wise. But compared to winter, that’s not even close to what we normally do,” said Dunlap.

Garfinkel’s, like many others, has operate on a skeleton crew since switching to take-out over two months ago.

“Colorado survives on tourism. So it’s important for us to all get going in the right direction. We can do it slowly, which is fine.”

Social distancing guidelines will limit groups to six people—including outdoor seating—and parties must be spaced at least six feet apart.

On Sunday, the state released new guidelines for restaurants that will allow eight people in a group.

Garfinkel’s will continue to offer take-out, after re-opening dine-in services on Monday.

“We’re getting takeout tonight, but probably a few more weeks before dine-in,” said customers Kevin and Leigh Flanagan.

“I’ll give it another couple of weeks just to continue to look at the data and the news. I think takeout has worked really well,” Kevin Flanagan added.

Customers can be served alcohol, but only at tables. For now, they won’t be allowed to belly up at the bar.

“We were on such a good growth spurt in Vail for summer business. This is definitely going to hinder it a little bit. But I think at this point, you’re looking back to what we did 10 to 12 years ago—which is still good,” said Dunlap.

It’s a welcomed transition, just in time for the unofficial start of summer—though it will take some time to get back to a full-sized staff.

“Hopefully by June 22,” said Dunlap. “I predict, though, that we’re going to be at about 70 percent for that last week of June—maybe hit 80 percent in July if we’re lucky.”

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