Restaurants to be celebrated this month through Dine Out to Help Out initiative | SteamboatToday.com
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Restaurants to be celebrated this month through Dine Out to Help Out initiative

Server Jordan Stibitz takes an order while working at Mazzola's Italian Diner in Steamboat Springs. The local restaurant has expanded its seating by using the sidewalk to seat customers and expand the business.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Gov. Jared Polis has declared Saturday as Colorado Restaurant Day. Coloradans across the state are encouraged to dine out or order takeout to support local restaurants in their communities. 

The day is being held in conjunction with the Denver Food and Wine Festival and their new initiative Dine Out to Help Out, created to support restaurants and their workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Colorado Restaurant Association, Colorado Restaurant Foundation, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Colorado, Visit Denver, Denver Post, Alice Radio and the Mountain are uniting in this statewide effort to raise funds for the Angel Relief Fund, which will help promote restaurants’ survival during this time.

The Denver Food and Wine Festival, which is virtual this year, has been repurposed to support this campaign and will focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened restaurants across the state, as well as their workers. 

Locally, Steamboat’s chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association is pairing with Main Street Steamboat to support the Dine Out to Help Out initiative on Saturday as well as during Steamboat’s restaurant week, which is Sept. 25 to Oct. 4. 

Residents are encouraged to dine out this Saturday and during restaurant week later in the month to help support local restaurants. Additionally, patrons can also make a donation to the Colorado Restaurant Foundation using a specific QR code. These donations will then be funneled back to Steamboat through the Steamboat Springs Restaurant Association and will help support local restaurants and their workers in several different ways that will be decided on by the local chapter of the association.

“The biggest plan right now is to make a donation to LiftUp to help support their programs that already support restaurant workers by helping them with rent and covering food costs,” said Nick Sharp, president of Steamboat’s chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association and director of operations at Rex’s Family of Restaurants. 

Sharp points out that while restaurants seem busy now during the summer months with more tourists in town, in October and November, restaurants and their workers will struggle again. 

“As fall and winter approaches and restaurants see a decline in diners, there is the potential for their workers to be laid off or have their hours reduced,” he said. “The donations raised by this initiative will help restaurants keep their staff on and keep their doors open.”

The initiative will be promoted through Steamboat’s Restaurant Week, with 25 to 30 local restaurants participating. While residents are encouraged to dine out or order takeout, donations can be made via the QR code without actually being in the restaurant in person or even in Steamboat at all.

“This is a way for the community to support the restaurants that we love,” said Lisa Popovich, executive director of Main Street Steamboat. “It’s a way to give support during the shoulder season when not a lot of people are in town.”

Similar to Denver’s Food and Wine Festival, Steamboat’s Restaurant Week will have a different feel this year, Popovich said. 

“This is a chance to really show some love for the restaurants here,” she said. “We wouldn’t be the community we are without all of these great places that we have to eat and drink and hang out. I think we all realized that in the past few months when we had limited access to these places. We’re a community that goes out a lot, and when we couldn’t do that, it makes us appreciate our restaurants even more.”

Popovich also points out that sales tax from restaurants and retail make up between 65% and 75% of the city’s budget, depending on the year.

“Without restaurants, we can’t plow our streets or pay our firefighters,” she said. “It’s all connected.”

Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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