Greeley restaurant opens dine-in for customers, despite state order

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GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — A Greeley restaurant has reopened its dine-in services for customers, making them one of the first in Colorado.

The Charro has managed to stay open through COVID-19, but with limited staffing.

“They have great green chili.  We’ve been coming here every weekend and taking food home,” longtime customer Rex Burchett said.

But customers said something was still missing.

“The connection, the human experience—you can’t replace that,” customer Donna VanPatten said, who was dining in, on Friday.  

“You can’t replace it with a zoom meeting, a phone call or someone delivering your food to you on the curb,” she added.

On Tuesday, the longstanding Mexican restaurant re-opened its dining room to customers.

“This was not a political statement. We thought we were able to open,” owner Kelley Chagolla said.

Per Governor Polis’ order, restaurants are still required—state-wide—to stay closed, with the exception of delivery and carry-out.

Chagolla and her son, Harrison, were hearing otherwise—specific to Weld County.

They say they reached out to county officials for clarification.

“They didn’t say ‘you have our blessing to open up.’ But they said, ‘we’re not going to shut you down. There’s nothing stopping you from opening up.’ You we decide let’s go for it,” Harrison Chagolla, the restaurant’s general manager, said.

In a statement released by a Weld County spokesperson on Friday, they told FOX31:

“The owners did not reach out to county officials. General guidance for businesses was released  April 23.”

But Chagolla and her son insist they spoke with multiple people from the county, including the health department, before deciding to reopen.

“The gentleman said ‘yes, Weld County says you can open up. We’re open at this point,’ and gave us all the due diligence that we used to go through,” they told FOX31.

Governor Polis’ office could not be reached for comment.

Currently, the family-owned business is operating at about a quarter of their capacity.

“The other side of the restaurant—we’re doing every other table, to make sure there’s the minimum 6 feet between tables, to keep with the social distancing we’re told should be there,” Harrison Chagolla said.

He says they can only seat about seven tables at a time.

Customers hope this is the start of returning to “normal.”

“We would come here with two of our other friends and always sit at the same table and always have the same waitress,” Burchett said.

Harrison Chagolla says the county has warned them they’re not sure how the City of Greeley will react.

He says county officials never mentioned anything about the Governor’s order during their phone conversations. 

“If something happens and they want to talk to us—if they really want us to shut down—we’re more than happy to comply.”

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