Gov. Polis announces bars can reopen at limited capacity Thursday

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DENVER (KDVR) — On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis announced that bars will be able to reopen at limited capacity.

It’s a victory for some bars, that have been shut down for months—but others say they’ll most likely hold off even longer.

Sean Kenyon says he’s been able to welcome customers back to several of his Denver bars.

He is the Bartender Proprietor of Williams and Graham, The Occidental—in LoHi—and American Bonded, in the RiNo area.

“We finally opened five days ago at Occidental, and we opened the weekend prior at American Bonded,” Kenyon told Fox31 on Monday.

The Occidental can seat just under 50 people, under the current state guidelines.

They’re open Wednesday through Sunday, for the time being.

“It takes a little bit longer to bring people in, but we’re just happy to have people walk through the doors again and happy to be able to take care of people again—and that’s been great,” said Kenyon.

But next door, at the speakeasy Williams and Graham, the lights are still off.

Kenyon says they’ll stay that way, even after new guidelines on Thursday. The guidelines state that bars can reopen at 25 percent capacity or up to 50 people.

“We could open Williams and Graham, but we would only be able to have 18 or 19 people in at a time.  That’s not really worth it for anybody to be open—it’s not worth it for the money our staff would make.  We’d be bleeding money every week.”

Kenyon says for some bar owners, it’s more cost effective to keep their doors closed than to reopen them on Thursday.

“When you open your doors, you add costs.  Right now, I’m paying basic utilities for not being open and we’re having to pay rent,” Kenyon explained.

“If we open the doors, we’re looking at payroll costs, costs of goods to bring in to be able to sell—so the costs just pile up.  We lose more money at a faster rate,” he added.

Some bar and restaurant staff are still making more on unemployment, than they would returning to work with limited or reduced shifts.

“A lot of the bar and restaurant employees are making more on unemployment, with the $600 bump, then they would be, coming back with limited capacities.”

Kenyon tells FOX31 that realistically, the speakeasy will reopen late summer or early fall at the earliest.

“We really want to open in the right way, and open up in a way that’s safe for our staff and safe for our guests,” he said.

“To be viable to reopen Williams and Graham, we would have to be back up to 75 percent.”

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