One year after restaurants closed down due to the pandemic, there is optimism for the future

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DENVER — For many restaurants, the last year was one filled with uncertainty.

“Every day seemed like a really long day for a long time, but ironically, looking back at it as I speak with you here, it seems like yesterday,” said CEO of Culinary Creative & Tap & Burger Concepts, Juan Padro.

A little over a year ago, the entire industry shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, it’s been a fight to stay afloat for Padro and his staff at Tap & Burger in Sloan’s Lake.

“We took kind of the approach of a humane approach of, let’s just take care of one another and lift each other up. Anytime you go into a situation whether it is a pandemic or an earthquake or a hurricane, I do some disaster recovery work so, you want water, light, food and a roof over your folks head, and so our focus was just that,” said Padro.

Although his business made it through, countless others did not. One of those was Biju’s Little Curry Shop.

Now, the former restaurant owner, Biju Thomas, is starting a new chapter. One more in tune with the current climate.

“There was a long period of, kind of just treading water to stay alive and then about six months ago, with a couple friends of mine, (we) started a virtual event company called Mixn-Match,” said Thomas.

Mixn-Match puts Colorado chefs and mixologists in a virtual setting for people to enjoy an event or a fundraiser from their homes.

“The whole event lasts an hour online and we want the guests to walk away learning something new and in most cases, we’ll ship product to them ahead of time so they’ll have a fully ready box to-go of stuff they can cook along,” said Thomas.

Whether it’s a new concept or a restaurant staying in business, the future is brighter now than it was just a few short months ago.

“Twenty-five percent of unemployment in America is tied to hospitality, which is an outstanding number, and so we’ve got to get these kids back to work so they can take care of our families and their loved ones,” said Padro.