Golden pizzerias scramble after governor's order halting dine-in service

Restaurants leaning on delivery, take-out after laying off several employees

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/19/20

“People that are used to going out to eat and going to restaurants are going to have a hard time cooking every night of the week.” That's what Woody's Wood Fired Pizza owner Jon Bortles said he …

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Golden pizzerias scramble after governor's order halting dine-in service

Restaurants leaning on delivery, take-out after laying off several employees

Posted

“People that are used to going out to eat and going to restaurants are going to have a hard time cooking every night of the week.”

That's what Woody's Wood Fired Pizza owner Jon Bortles said he was thinking — and hoping — on the second day after Jared Polis' order that all Colorado restaurants must cease dine-in service for at least 30 days went into effect. That order led Bortles to make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off 58 of his restaurant's 70 employees.

“Our hope is to bring 100 percent of people back,” Bortles said. “We very much consider this a temporary layoff and plan to resume as soon as possible the same as we were before.”

But for now, Bortles is hoping delivery orders and pizzas served from a new service window he coincidentally installed at the restaurant late last year will be enough to keep the restaurant afloat and stave off any further cuts in employee hours.

“Take-out is a nice option for people to be able to have right now,” Bortles said. “And now we have this convenient pick-up area with dedicated parking and the window so you don't have to come in the building or have a lot of interaction with people. You just pick up your food and take it home.”

But while Bortles said he is “committed to being here and staying open for the staff and community for as long as it takes,” Woody's is far from the only Golden pizza restaurant reeling from the effects of the new dining reality wrought by COVID-19.

Across town at Mannie and Bo's, another Golden mainstay which has been serving the city for 30 years, owner Mark Lineaweaver said he had to lay off half of his staff and has fewer hours for those who remain as the restaurant continues to make orders for delivery and pick-up.

He said sales were down about 20 percent on the first day of business without dine-in service, a drop he largely attributes to the loss of the restaurant's ability to sell alcohol. However, there is another issue Lineaweaver thinks could also hurt take-out and delivery business — at least for now.

“What's hurting right now is everybody hoarded,” he said. “They have refrigerators and freezers full of stuff and they are like `I better eat this or it's going to go bad.'”

Staffing has also been cut following the order at Basic Kneads Pizza, which is located down South Golden Road from Mannie and Bo's.

“We were just hiring for the spring so we had a guy who just started last week and right now he's down to zero hours,” manager Ben Ocanas said. “Hopefully it will pick up and we will find stuff for them to do.”

Despite the challenges posed by being unable to serve dine-in customers, Ocanas said he has been surprised by the amount of support Basic Kneads has received from the community. He said lunchtime has definitely been slower since the order was imposed but dinnertime has been fairly busy with takeout orders.

“We've got people saying we've got to support you and I appreciate that people are willing to come out and be safe and they trust us and are willing to order food and keep us going so that we can continue on when this is all set and done,” Ocanas said.

Still, the COVID-19 situation is a constantly changing one — and that continues to worry Ocanas.

“It seems like everything continues to change with the government from day to day and hour to hour so it's tough to know what the next change will be,” he said. “But so as long as they allow us to do carry-out we will be doing our best to make money and stay afloat.”

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