Restaurants have been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and in Mancos they’re rapidly adjusting structures to stay afloat.
The adjustments include new hours, hand sanitizer galore and lots of takeouts and curbside pickups.
It’s a communal effort, said Kate Wall, owner of Zuma Natural Foods, where signs direct customers to head to Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters for espresso and Absolute Bakery and Cafe for breakfast burritos.
“We’re sending people there, in an attempt to try to spread out the dollars in our community to make sure that all the local businesses can remain viable,” she said.
Many local restaurants have worked hard to create cozy, artistic gathering spaces, but they’re now forging a new business model that focuses on to-go orders and deliveries.
On March 16, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order closing all dine-in services at bars and restaurants. Takeout is still allowed.
To comply with the order and Polis’ subsequent order banning all gatherings of 10 or more people, restaurants that are still open have limited the number of customers that pass through their doors to five or six at once.
At Zuma Natural Foods, which has both a grocery store and a hot foods section, the virus has really pushed Wall to think about cleanliness practices.
“It’s really, really upped our commitment and awareness to the best safety procedures we can put in place,” Wall said, “because our staff are exposed to a lot, and we want to make sure that Zuma is a safe place to get food.”
Zuma has a takeout option for hot food, but the pandemic has led staff to shift their focus away from the deli. Some staff members have chosen to isolate themselves because of compromised immune systems or age, so the shop now has limited hours. This week, Zuma is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with curbside pickup as an option.
The virus and shortened hours have impacted the sales of certain items, Wall said, so they are making sure they have the “right products.” In a few weeks, Zuma hopes to have a better sense of the community’s needs, she said.
“We want to put into place measures that will be sustainable for us going forward in the long term,” Wall said.
Some customers have put in special large orders for products like rice and beans, but overall there hasn’t been much hoarding at Zuma.
“I really think our customer base is amazing,” Wall said. “I really appreciate the community of Mancos, and their ability to remain calm and conscious and respectful.”
Beginning Tuesday, the Absolute Bakery and Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week. The expanded hours allow the restaurant to serve dinner and give additional working hours to their employees.
“We’re doing the best we can,” said Virginia Feher. “It’s down to our skeleton crew, of course, every day, but that’s why we added dinner – to give people hours and the extra day.”
Absolute has added pizza and a variety of to-go offerings to its menu. Customers now can turn breakfast meals into wraps for takeout, and students can pick up brown bag lunches.
Keeping everything sanitary is key, said Kathryn Hermansky at the bakery. Only five customers are allowed inside at a time, hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes are stationed throughout the eatery, and staff are getting masks.
“It’s been a day-to-day process, but we’re trying to keep our staff fed, the community fed and just doing the best that we can,” Hermansky said. Customers can opt for curbside pickup – and are encouraged to do so if they feel ill.
P&D GroceryBusiness at P&D Grocery hasn’t lagged, although owner Pete Loyd said they shouldn’t become complacent.
“The effect is not now, the effect’s going to be when it’s over,” Loyd said. Although supplies have been flying off the shelves, he predicts that once the pandemic dies down, people will have enough goods to last a while.
“As soon as this is over, they’re going to have to use up all their hoarding,” he said.
Tuesday morning, P&D’s shelves were well stocked, after having received a big truckload the day before. But the shipment was still far less than usual, showing strained supplies on the manufacturer side, Loyd said.
“I ordered $43,000 worth, and got $21,00 worth,” he said. “Not even half of what we ordered.”
P&D ordered 78 cases of toilet paper and received eight. “And it lasted one hour,” Loyd said.
P&D keeps some individual rolls behind the front desk now, though, for customers in dire straits.
Other hot commodities at P&D have been hamburger meat, potatoes, alcohol, beans, rice, and hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, he said.