In a yr of Zoom, outside eating and takeout, Summit County’s entrepreneurs nonetheless have discovered methods to drum up enterprise.
Whereas the intent was merely to outlive the pandemic, the brand new instruments companies used and providers they offered are prone to show helpful in a post-pandemic world.
Regardless of hardships skilled within the enterprise group, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and properly in Summit County. In line with city information, almost as many companies opened (132) as closed (146) since March 2020.
Eating places have been exhausting hit by the pandemic. With indoor eating positioned underneath capability restrictions or eradicated altogether, eating places throughout the nation turned to outside eating. Nonetheless, outside eating isn’t superb in Summit County within the winter with subfreezing temperatures and frequent snowfall. However together with takeout, it turned the one possibility when the county went to stage pink on the state’s dial in late November, closing indoor eating.
In Frisco, for instance, restaurant gross sales tax income was down about 15% in 2020. After the extent pink restrictions took impact, December income was down 24%.
Eating places improvised by adjusting menus to be extra takeout-friendly and including warmth lamps and hearth pits to outdoor-seating areas. Some eating places took it a step additional with outside constructions like tents and “bubbles,” wherein particular person events may very well be served.
Sauce on the Blue in Silverthorne and Aurum Meals & Wine in Breckenridge invested in yurts for single-party seating.
“We had been going to do the yurts initially,” Sauce on the Blue managing accomplice and proprietor Tim Applegate stated about contemplating the constructions earlier than the pandemic to supply a singular eating expertise. “COVID made us do it quicker than we had been planning on it, however our yurts can be up each October going ahead.”
The yurts had been arrange in early November, including 24 seats to the restaurant — a major increase when indoor eating capability was nonetheless restricted to 25%.
Along with increasing the restaurant’s footprint, Applegate hoped they may convey some much-needed income — and he was proper. The yurts require a particular two-hour reservation with a $300 food and drinks minimal, a value company are keen to pay. Applegate stated in February that the yurts usually are booked each night time.
Applegate stated he needed the yurts to be a high-end eating expertise, so every construction has its personal theme and is decked out with vintage chandeliers and different decor. The yurts are insulated, and every has its personal electrical heating unit and air filter. There’s additionally a dome within the prime of the constructions that may open for air flow between makes use of.
He stated the yurts will proceed to serve company as a singular winter restaurant expertise within the years forward.
“It’s actually been enjoyable for the shoppers and for our workers,” Applegate stated.
David “Ax” Axelrod, proprietor of Highside Brewing in Frisco, additionally had a enterprise concept that got here to fruition throughout the pandemic out of a necessity for a brand new income stream. The brewery used to serve its beer to clients solely from faucets within the restaurant, however Axelrod determined it was time for Highside to begin canning.
“With the primary shutdown, we ordered the Gosling, which is the canning (system) that now we have,” Axelrod stated. “(It) is a comparatively small, transportable one that matches in our area and simply offers us the power to climate the storm within the case of being shut down once more. It offers us a income, a technique to maintain shifting beer.”
Throughout the springtime shutdown, Axelrod stated canning beer felt like a necessity. Now that the method is up and operating, he stated he’s centered on bringing canned beer to native liquor shops. The canned beer is also bought to individuals who cease by Highside’s taproom.
Working the canning operation doesn’t take an excessive amount of manpower, and the cans themselves are adorned with the work of native artists, who’re in a position to promote themselves by including hyperlinks to their web sites on the cans. Axelrod stated the operation of canning beer will certainly proceed after the pandemic.
“It simply will get our beer on the market and will get our identify on the market and permits us to achieve a much bigger viewers,” Axelrod stated. “We get a whole lot of requests from folks down on the Entrance Vary wanting our beer down there, so it offers them the power to take four-packs again or circumstances or whatnot. And hopefully sooner or later, we’ll broaden and have the ability to get extra frequently down in liquor shops on the Entrance Vary.”
Eating places and breweries weren’t alone of their monetary struggles over the previous yr. Health facilities had been shuttered in mid-March and weren’t permitted to reopen at any indoor capability till mid-June.
Throughout that point, health facilities began providing lessons on-line. When facilities reopened in the summertime with restricted capability, they continued to supply the web lessons along with restricted in-person choices — typically conducting each on the identical time, streaming dwell lessons in order that an teacher may train a single class to a gaggle of in-person and on-line shoppers.
Bridget Crowe, proprietor of Physique Necessities Pilates, stated she was taking on-line health lessons earlier than the pandemic however that she wasn’t positive if it was value the additional work to host them herself. The pandemic made it a necessity.
With out in-person lessons, the one possibility for health studios like Crowe’s was to show lessons through Zoom or one other dwell videoconference service. Educating on-line lessons proved financially sustainable for Crowe, who stated she prices the identical value for in-person and on-line periods.
When studios may reopen, instructors like Crowe continued to show on-line and in-person to cater to shoppers who had been comfy coming to the studio and people who weren’t. The comfort of on-line lessons rapidly turned obvious, with even frequent in-studio shoppers tuning in on-line after they weren’t in a position to make it in-person.
Crowe stated it wasn’t exhausting to seek out the silver lining. She stated educating on-line has allowed shoppers who’re within the space part-time or can’t make it to the studio to maintain up along with her lessons.
“I really sit up for these days that I’m on Zoom,” Crowe stated. “… I believe it’s been a present to me and to the folks that I’m working with.”
This story beforehand printed in Nonetheless Standing: How Summit County Weathered the Pandemic.