On August 9th, Bonanno Concepts, one of Denver’s largest restaurant groups, announced that all employees and guests must be vaccinated from September 30th. Now, almost two months later, it keeps that promise with the introduction of vaccine requirements for all nine of its concepts, including Mizuna, Luca, Osteria Marco, Green Russell, Russell’s Smokehouse, Vesper Lounge, Lou’s Food Bar, Salt & Grinder, and the Food Hall of the milk market.
When it was first announced, it was planned that all guests at the group’s upscale locations would have to fill out health declarations. At the more informal milk market Lou’s and Salt & Grinder, signs would be put up saying that guests must be vaccinated against COVID-19. But as COVID cases increased in Colorado – and the federal government issued new mandates – the plan changed and now guests have to show cards. A major factor in the change was President Joe Biden’s announcement on 9/19 at least once a week, according to Jessica Kinney, HR director for Bonanno Concepts. “The public is much more willing to accept [vaccine requirements] now, “says Kinney.
The guidelines currently in place at all Bonanno restaurants require guests to present a vaccination card and appropriate photo ID in order to dine indoors and on the terraces. Accepted evidence is a current vaccination card, a photo of the card or proof of the card in the MyColorado app. If you don’t have a vaccine certificate, you can place takeaway orders online and over the phone. Children under the age of twelve who are not yet able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination must wear masks, while children under the age of two do not require a face covering.
All Bonanno Concepts employees are now also vaccinated. Staff who had not been vaccinated had two months to receive the vaccine, and 35 did. Kinney says that out of a total of 400 employees, only seven have decided against vaccination. The company “broke up,” she added, “but it was a good relationship. They know that if their vaccination status changes, they’ll be welcome back.”
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Overall, the feedback from staff and guests was positive. “We were very pleasantly surprised at how well everyone was accepted,” notes Kinney, adding that the restaurants had asked their guests last month to fill out health declarations to give staff the opportunity to chat in person about the upcoming event Vaccination certificate required. “Many are looking for a safe place to eat,” she explains.
That feeling is reflected in comments on the social media posts announcing the policy, as well as from guests who contact us directly. An El Paso County woman called the Bonanno Group and thanked director Liz Kotalik for asking for vaccinations.
Evidence of a vaccine is now basically a standard for live events like concerts, but Bonanno Concepts remains the only multi-location restaurant group to have had a similar policy in Denver to date. As cool weather arrives and COVID cases continue to rise, it may not last by itself for long.