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On normal summer nights, the lines are out the door at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs. The original location of the Colorado mountain pizza chain just doesn’t have enough seating in its scattered dining rooms for more than 600 people.

With the coronavirus pandemic, there are no more normal summer nights. But there’s still a wait for pizza. Continued statewide safety measures limit seating to only 50 people indoors. Getting an indoor variance and expanding to the street added 200 seats for the restaurant. With limited seating, the wait stretched nearly an hour during lunch time on Saturday.

And the hits keep coming. There’s winter months to think about when it’s not so nice to sit outdoors. And after reducing staffing to accommodate just take-out and delivery orders early in the pandemic, rehiring workers has not been easy, said Teresa Falco, a Beau Jo’s spokeswoman.

“Some of them didn’t want to come back because they were getting that $600 a week from the federal stimulus,” Falco said. “We had to hire (new employees) to cover the hours. It’s a very small percentage because obviously we can’t have our full staff back. We’re just not there yet. How can you be when you have a restaurant that seats 600 and now only have seats for 50?”

As the pandemic drags on, many businesses have outlasted federal financial relief and initial enthusiasm to adapt to a stay-at-home way of life. Recovery appears further away than many restaurants believe they can hold on. The restaurant industry already had a reputation as a challenging market with low margins and high turnover. The latest survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association found that 56% of restaurant members fear that if coronavirus conditions don’t improve, they’ll permanently close within three months. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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