Editor’s Note: Business Matters is a monthly column featuring business news in Denver. The column for April is taking a different shape this month to reflect how local businesses are operating under mandates set by the state and city of Denver to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
For April, the column includes both the Life on Capitol Hill and Washington Park Profile coverage areas. But, it is by no means an exhaustive list. Colorado Community Media urges you to reach out to your favorite local businesses — follow them on social media, visit their websites or give them a phone call — to find out how you can help support them in these difficult times.
We are staying up-to-date on all COVID-19 announcements affecting the community, and the Business Matters column will return as usual once appropriate.
In the meantime, if you are a local business that would like readers to know what you’re doing during the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, email Christy Steadman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cherry Creek North
Small businesses are facing a particularly difficult time.
“But things are not shut down completely,” Nick LeMasters, president and CEO of Cherry Creek North, said of local businesses. “It’s important to continue to support them.”
Specifically, he said, “shop at them.”
While some shops are staying open, many are offering online shopping options, with some waiving delivery fees. Others are limiting open hours and/or providing open hours by appointment.
If you’re heading to a specific small business destination, call ahead to check on their hours, LeMasters said.
Cherry Creek North consists of 16 walkable blocks, and is there for people to take a stroll, window shop and enjoy the setting, while still practicing social distancing, LeMasters said.
Another creative way to support local businesses is to purchase a gift card for use in the future, LeMasters added.
LeMasters is “hopeful this virus gets contained quickly,” he said, adding that he’s “certain the shops will re-open once they feel comfortable.”
Yasu Kizaki believes that independent restaurants have a unique personality and spirit.
“Small local businesses have an entire ecosystem in their orbit which sustains, empowers and benefits the community in ways seen, and unseen,” Kizaki said. “In addition, small businesses are the DNA of a community giving it unique character, spirit and vitality.”
Kizaki, along with his brother Toshi Kizaki, are co-owners of Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and OTOTO Den, all located at 1487 S. Pearl St. in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood.
Not able to offer in-restaurant dining under the current emergency order, the sushi restaurants are offering a special Den Corner Curbside To-Go Menu.
“As COVID-19 has begun to greatly affect the hospitality industry nationwide, the well-being of our staff and guests remains our absolute No.1 priority,” the Kizaki brothers said in a news release. “All of us at Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and OTOTO send our most heartfelt wishes to you, our guests, for your health and wellness during this difficult and uncertain time.”
Pet Wants Denver
While we’re doing everything we can for human health, said Jess Green, owner of Pet Wants Denver, “it’s also important to make sure our pets are taken care of.”
“We are less worried about pets contracting this disease,” Green said. Still, she added, “I think this is a good time to think about keeping your pets healthy year-round.”
Pet Wants Denver is a mobile pet supply store that offers small-batch, fresh pet food for dogs and cats; supplements; treats and chews; and homemade spa products.
It is a small business and dependent on the community, Green said. She added that a lot of the business’s income is generated from selling its products at various events, which because of COVID-19 have all been canceled.
“Right now, we’re dependent on online sales, which include free delivery,” Green said.
Pet Wants Denver services all of Denver’s neighborhoods and surrounding communities.
“We want to do everything we can to support our Denver pet community,” Green said. “Our pets provide us with so much companionship. They’ll love always having you home during these times.”
Fox Run Café
Though it’s a challenging time to open a restaurant, Lucien Reichert and his team decided to forge on and opened Fox Run Café on March 18, offering a limited menu pickup service.
“As someone who grew up in Denver, I’m excited to be creating a restaurant in my neighborhood for such a vibrant community,” Reichert said. “We’re rallying friends, family, neighbors and the community to support us through this unconventional beginning of the restaurant.”
Fox Run Café is located at 3350 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver’s Congress Park neighborhood.
It features a breakfast-and-lunch menu that “focuses on simplistic, high-quality and seasonal ingredients,” states a news release.
The Spot Denver
The Spot, a bouldering gym in the Golden Triangle, celebrated obtaining a liquor license in February.
Not even a month later, to comply with state mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the gym announced its closure through at least the end of March.
“This was the hardest decision we have faced in our 18 years of serving you,” states a note on the gym’s website.
The Spot opened its first location in Boulder in 2002, and The Spot Denver, 1235 Delaware St., opened in April 2019.
“We know that climbing is a very important part of your lives, we’ll all be sad that we need to close for this time,” the note states. “We look forward to reopening to climb and party with you again. This too shall pass.”
Keep Calm and Carry Out
Sage Restaurant Concepts has launched its Keep Calm and Carry Out to help raise money to benefit local food banks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve always been committed to our communities,” states a news release. “As we face the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, we wanted to find a way to continue to contribute to our communities.”
How it works is for every carry-out order placed at any participating Sage Restaurant Concepts location and partnering restaurants, $1 will be donated to Feeding America, an organization helping local food banks respond to COVID-19.
In Denver, Food Bank of the Rockies, www.foodbankrockies.org, will be the recipient of the Feeding America donations. To find a list of participating restaurants, visit the Keep Calm and Carry Out website provided above.
“We hope to help bring a sense of calm during this trying time. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to eat only non-perishable food or sit back without taking action,” the news release states. “Enjoy a satisfying meal, feed the family and eliminate stress while helping your community.”
For those with a sweet tooth, Insomnia Cookies will continue baking and has recently launched contact-free delivery options, according to its Facebook page.
Customers who place an order for delivery can now choose to have their delivery left at the door.
Insomnia Cookies celebrated the grand opening of its second bakery in Denver in February. The new 78 S. Broadway location joins Insomnia Cookies’ other location at 2075 S. University Blvd.
As its name implies, the bakery specializes in cookies but also offers cookie cakes, ice cream cookiewiches and brownies.
John Elliott, owner of Streets Denver, a live music venue and bar in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, has concerns about paying the establishment’s rent with zero revenue coming in, but is more concerned about his seven employees.
“They lose 100% of their income,” Elliott said.
They will remain on payroll so they can come in and be paid for cleaning and making updates to the bar, he said, but as people who rely on tips as primary income, it will likely be hard for them to make ends meet. Elliott said he plans to find any way that he can help supplement their income — even if it means having them help with tasks that need to be done at his home.
Elliott spoke with other local bar owners, he said, and the conversation included a prediction that 20% to 30% of small businesses in the entertainment industry may not be able to reopen.
“But we hope we’re wrong,” Elliott said.
Streets Denver had to close down completely and cancel all shows until May 11. However, to help keep interest generated in Denver’s local music scene, Streets Denver is using Facebook to promote local bands, such as posting music videos.
“Our hearts go out to all the bands, venues, promoters, street team members, customers and everyone in our industry,” Streets Denver wrote in a Facebook post.
Like many breweries, Grandma’s House, 1710 S. Broadway, will continue producing beer and will offer their product to go.
“This is going to affect us all,” brewery owner Matt Fuerst said of the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “But as difficult as this is on all of us, we understand the rationale.”
Along with finding a way to sustain itself, the brewery put thought into what it can do to help the community also facing hard times. What it came up with is implementing its Pay-What-You-Can To-Go Beer Menu.
“While we hope that our wonderful customers will do whatever you can to help us stay afloat for the foreseeable future, we would also love to provide a little relief to those with reduced financial means right now,” states a note on Grandma’s House’s website. “In times like these, we have to stick together more than ever.”
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