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Another week without pandemic restrictions, another week without restaurant closings. Now that people are flocking to the dining rooms all over Denver, another problem is forcing some restaurants to reduce their hours or even close temporarily, as is the case with Troy Guards FNG: staff shortages. Since the COVID outbreak, “a lot of people have taken other jobs, moved away, done what they needed to survive,” Guard said of the labor shortage he is facing at his restaurant group, which includes eight brands. Closing FNG will allow him to relocate the people there to his other concepts, he explains.
At The Halal Guys, which opened the opening week of their first Colorado location on June 18, franchise owners Chris Bui and Kevin Than used a traditional method of handing out flyers at the Town Center in Aurora to attract a large number of high school students.
Open since 1994, Carmine’s on Penn kept its doors open (albeit sometimes for takeaway and delivery) during the pandemic restrictions and eventually brought back all 33 employees thanks to the PPP loan it received. Some of these employees have now moved to Carmine’s second office in McGregor Square, which officially opened on June 18.
Even before COVID, finding restaurant staff in Denver was a challenge. Unemployment benefits, lack of childcare, frustration with restaurant culture, and general post-COVID burnout are some of the many factors that add to the added barriers today.
But somehow new restaurants keep opening up, and owners like Guard are getting creative to feed people and improve restaurant culture in a post-pandemic world. “We’re doing what we can,” says Guard. “That was my motto.”
Here is the full list of openings and temporary closings this week:
Restaurants opening this week: *
Carmine’s in McGregor Square, 1951 Wazee Street
Gruvi Tasting Lounge (summer pop-up), 1455 South Pearl Street
The Halal Guys, 14535 East Alameda Avenue Suite D, Aurora
La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal, 2233 Larimer Street
Lost City at Avanti Boulder, 1401 Pearl Street, Boulder
X Denver, 3100 Inca Street
Open ‘n Bubbler at Edgewater Public Market, 5505 West 20th Avenue, Edgewater
Restaurants are temporarily closing this week: *
FNG, 3940 West 32nd Avenue
* Or earlier and not yet listed.
Do you know of anything we missed? Send an email to [email protected]
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Molly Martin is Westword’s Food & Drink Editor. She has been writing about the Denver dining scene since 2013 and has eaten her way around town long before that, enjoying long walks to the nearest burrito and spending the nights with cocktails on Colfax.