Polis launches initiative to promote, fund outdoor-dining expansions through winter
Governor Polis announced during a media briefing Tuesday that he will convene a virtual gathering of designers, landscape architects and others with restaurants and public-health leaders on Oct. 19 to discuss ways to continue outdoor dining through the cold months ahead. Denver, Arvada, and other cities already have announced they will continue to grant variances to permit outdoor dining in public rights-of-way through next year, but significant questions remain around whether Coloradans will be willing to eat under a tent through winter.
In addition to bringing together experts to brainstorm ideas that will be disseminated throughout the restaurant sector, eateries that need help in building tents or heating rooftops can get it through a $500,000 donation that Xcel Energy (Nasdaq: XEL) announced to the Colorado Restaurant Association Foundation
. The utility’s Colorado president, Alice Jackson, said Xcel also has committed to donate another $50,000 for each $500,000 in additional money that the foundation can raise for the effort, up to $250,000 more.
“I know this program won’t work for all restaurants,” said CRA president/CEO Sonia Riggs, who has been critical of Polis’ capacity limitations and his order ending alcohol service at midnight or earlier in most of Colorado, sitting next to Polis at a media briefing. “But it can work and will work for a number of restaurants, and it’s important to help however we can.”
The new effort comes even as Polis is asking Coloradans to limit their interactions with others in the coming weeks and to possibly put off outings as the state combats a spike in coronavirus cases. It has recorded more than 1,000 new cases two times in the past four days — the first time it’s reached those numbers — and has seen hospitalizations for the virus grow from 132 on Sept. 4 to 290 as of today, the governor said.