ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado restaurant owner provides a place for people with disabilities to work. When COVID struck, followed by state-mandated restrictions, they prepared for the worse.
Jack Miller lived life in the fast lane as a younger man and professional ski racer.
“After I was on the Olympic team and skied for the national team for 10 years, I turned professional for a couple of years,” Miller said.
He credits his success with not knowing boundaries. When life got in his way, he just went right through it, or around it.
He credits that philosophy when he opened his first and only restaurant – Jack’s Bar and Grill. Not so much for the income, but to employ people like Elsa Lombardi.
“Elsa is one of our employees with developmental disabilities and she was our first employee,” Miller said.
Lombardi has been working for Miller for over 12 years.
“I make the coffee, help clean the tables, serve the food,” Lombardi said.
Miller has tackled just about every problem in the restaurant business, but COVID was a first.
“We were having supply chain issues, most of all we are having employee issues as far as we just don’t have the bodies,” Miller said.
Miller lost half of his employees with disabilities, about 35, to restrictions and health concerns. Lombardi was not one of them, she would not have it any other way.
”I love the people and I love Athan and Jack,” Lombardi said.
For Miller and his wife Athan, the feeling is mutual.
“She is just a special person to be with us that long, I can call her family now,” Miller said.
Miller says Jack’s Bar and Grill is not just a paycheck, but a higher call.