WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — In a year filled with ups, downs and constant unexpected changes, Christine Wares stared down yet another challenge Tuesday morning.
The owner of Kokopelli Beer Company in Westminster spent thousands of dollars on tents and outdoor dining infrastructure ahead of the winter months to keep her doors open and her workers employed.
But a Colorado snowstorm changed her fortune overnight.
“They were completely caved in on the top,” Wares said. “They’re bent. There’s no saving them.”
The metal frames of her two massive tents bent from the weight of wet heavy snow. Westminster saw some of the highest snow totals in the Denver metro overnight Monday, with roughly 8.2 inches in the area.
“The problem is, now I don’t have that outdoor dining, and that allowed me to keep on some more staff,” Wares said. “I don’t want to have to do it, but I’m going to see what I can do to keep them busy, you know, and keep them employed throughout this. It’s the holidays, so I’m not looking forward to this at all.”
And she’s not alone.
Tom Felese owns the Cherry Tomato in east Denver. He woke up this morning to his outdoor dining setup completely destroyed by the snow. He had it up for two evenings, and says without help from the government, it is a devastating setback.
“I hate to see my dream — my goal in life was to have my own place — be gone by not being able to have a little help from the government,” Felese said.
“These are not tents you can take up and down and keep them safe for the customers,” Wares said. “You have to do everything you can, strap them down, we had emergency lights put in, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors — all per the city.”
At this point, Wares doesn’t know if she’ll spend thousands of additional dollars in her limited budget on replacing the tents, and with demand through the roof for outdoor dining infrastructure, it may come in too late.
“We’re just praying for good weather and if we can get that throughout the winter, we should be able to survive,” Wares said. “We have some customers that are phenomenal. And we have some that say they’re going to come and sit outside anyway — tent or no tent.”