Will Colorado’s special legislative session save restaurants? “Probably not,” industry leader says.

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Beast and Bottle’s owners know they could never sell enough take-out chicken pot pies to reap the full benefit of a new sales tax relief proposal that Colorado lawmakers are serving up for next week’s special legislative session. 

Under the coronavirus relief plan crafted by Democrats, restaurant owners would get to keep up to $2,000 per month in sales taxes owed to the state, according to details of the proposal described to The Colorado Sun. The state sales tax is 2.9%, so that means a restaurant would have to bring in about $70,000 per month to get the full $2,000 benefit. 

And now, in the worst of the pandemic, when restaurants in 21 Colorado counties have been ordered to end indoor dining and stop serving alcohol by 8 p.m., that kind of money isn’t even close to a possibility for most independent restaurants.

Though she’s grateful for any financial help while restaurants “are just grasping to stay afloat right now,” Beast and Bottle owner Aileen Reilly said it would help a lot more if the sales tax relief was part of a larger proposal. 

“I don’t think this is enough,” said Reilly, who with her brother owns Beast and Bottle and the southern Italian restaurant Coperta in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood. “If this is in a list of many things they are doing to help us, then that makes sense. But if this is the star, I would be terribly disappointed.” 

As of now, the tax relief bill is the big idea on the table for restaurants when the legislature begins its coronavirus special session on Monday. Called back to work by Gov. Jared Polis, lawmakers also will consider bills that would help small businesses in general, including through direct payments.

This story is being published partially online and in full in print editions through an agreement with the Colorado Sun. Read the full story online at coloradosun.com.