DENVER (KDVR) — Some Denver restaurants are facing a new set of challenges as they begin to reopen and it has nothing to do with pandemics or politics.
At Blake Street Tavern near Coors Field, the staple sports bar has transformed its parking lot into a 100-seat beer garden.
“We’ve been here 17 years and we’ve never had a parking lot quite like this,” owner Chris Fuselier told FOX31. “We now have astroturf and we have tents.”
The beer garden is the restaurant’s latest attempt at surviving 2020. Under current in-person dining rules, Blake Street Tavern’s 900-person facility is now limited to 50 customers at a time.
The outdoor patio space allows the restaurant to safely seat an addition 145 people. That is, if mother nature will let them.
“I mean, we got COVID then we got the curfew. Now we’ve opened this [patio] on Saturday and now we have weather,” Fuselier said.
On their first day of outside dining, wind gusts of up to 80 mph whipped through Denver, forcing the restaurant to abandon its patio plan.
“It was just a mad scramble because it happened so fast,” Fuselier said.
They have lost four tents and two umbrellas in the wind since Saturday.
“I didn’t think about the weather aspect. I mean, I’ve got enough things to worry about with just COVID and just trying to get people in here. I didn’t think about the weather,” Fuselier said.
Now, he thinks about it all the time.
“Now I’m paying attention hourly,” he said.
Blake Street Tavern’s business is now weather dependent.
“It’s not like you get a rain delay and people are going to sit it out. We don’t know how long it’s going to rain. We don’t know how windy it is going to be,” Fuselier said.
He says he is worried bad weather will keep customers away but he is also worried about unexpected bad weather rolling in when the patio is full.
“Let’s say you’re out here and it’s sunny and it’s beautiful and then all the sudden you have, you know how Colorado is, five minutes later we get hail or rain or something. Where are we going to put the 145 people outside because you’ve already got 50 people inside?” Fuselier said.
He is pushing for a new restaurant variance that would allow restaurants with bigger dining rooms to allow more customers inside. Right now, that is just an idea.