Restaurants adapt

The Soup Pot in Fairplay is just one of many restaurants in the county that is changing business strategies to serve customers with take out and delivery, while maintaining social distance during the coronavirus outbreak. The Soup Pot has customers call from outside, place the order and then the order will be set on top of the barrel outside. The restaurant has also been selling a grocery box of fresh food for customers. (Photo by Lori Bennett/The Flume)

Mayor of the Town of Fairplay, Frank Just, said many businesses such as restaurants, have seen a decrease in their business and many are focusing on take-out business. Just encourages anyone who can to visit the Fairplay restaurants for their fantastic carry-out meals.

Just also said that the Town of Fairplay offices are closed to the public, but business can still be carried out via telephone or online.

“Prescription drugs will still be delivered by the Buena Vista pharmacy,” Just added.

It’s no secret that businesses of all kinds are struggling to keep supplies and customers. But one thing is certain, businesses in Park County are working hard to balance the increased need for sanitary and safety precautions, and be innovated in order to meet customer needs without increasing virus exposure opportunities.

Cory Kritzmire, owner of the Al-Mart General Store in Alma, has modified his business to meet the needs of the local community. Despite high demands for items such as toilet paper, the business has seen a decrease in business and has gone from three employees in addition to Kritzmire and his wife, to one employee.

The store was closed for a time for intense cleaning, including a 12-hour ionization procedure. “We ionized the whole store, we ran that for 12 hours overnight. This is what hospitals use to kill clean the air and kill bacteria,” Kritzmire said.

“We are open limited hours, we shop for the customers, they don’t go past the front counter and they enter the store one at a time,” Kritzmire added.

Kritzmire has also closed down the clothing portion of the store, due to safety concerns. In addition, his business depends much on the impulse buy and with the personal shopping plan in place, this eliminates the impulse purchases.

Getting the proper amount of supplies has also been a challenge. Kritzmire said there is uncertainty with distributors. For example, if a store doubles their order, the distributor might just cancel the whole order.

Related to hoarding behavior, such as toilet paper, Kritzmire said that he had to ration toilet paper per customer.

Kritzmire hopes that with all the tourists that left Breckenridge, in a couple weeks his distribution chain should return to normal to serve the needs of local customers.

The Riverside Inn in Fairplay has seen a decrease in business.

Dee Patel, manager of the Riverside Inn, said in response to the coronavirus, “We are not laying off employees, but we have had to cut back their hours.”

For safety, the Riverside is taking extra safety precautions by wiping down all the handles and doorknobs, using Lysol in the rooms to clean, and they are no longer serving breakfast.

Per Heather Yahr, inventory manager of the Sinclair Gas Station in Fairplay, said they are still pretty busy and maintain their regular hours of 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.

“The only issue we have had is keeping stock of Purell and toilet paper,” Yahr said.

The gas station has not had to furlough or cut back hours of any staff.

Timberline Properties Home Watch owner Phil Brogan said, “A large portion of our business is from short-term rentals. We project to have a 40 to 50 percent cancellation rate for the next 30 days.

“Guests that do still come are mostly disappointed with what they find when they get here. There is no skiing, most retail stores are closed, restaurants with reduced hours and take out only.

“Although this closure is painful for both business owners and their employees, it is necessary to try to control the spread of the virus.”

“If you would like to support our local businesses, call and buy gift certificates. This will help them cover their expenses while they are closed, then you can redeem them when things get back to normal,” Brogan added.

James Dean, owner of Prather’s Market in Fairplay, said, “Everyone has bought groceries and this has given us a temporary increase in business as people stock up.

“People have strained the grocery supply chain, and it will take a while for us to catch back up.”

Prather’s Market has not had a decrease in staffing.

“With the loss of tourism, probably 80 to 90 percent of the service industry and businesses being closed has cut off another food source,” Dean said.

Co-owner of KK’s Kakery and Dorothy’s Tamales, Wayne Albers, Jr., said, “We were closed today but had to come into package tamales and finish a cake for a local customer.

“So far it’s been all the panic shopping by people thinking this is the end of the world,” Albers, Jr. said, and added, “The best thing we can do as a community is help each other out and not be greedy and price gouge others for basic necessities like toilet paper and flour.”

Wearing his hat as the South Park Chamber of Commerce, President Wayne Albers, Jr., said “As far as other business, an closing because of the coronavirus that I’m aware of, are the schools, South Park Senior Center, Boys and Girls Club of the High Rockies, South Park Recreation Center and The South Park Brewery.”

“I have also been in communications with our Mayor Frank Just and he has gone to talk to all the food establishments in Fairplay, and he said they were all going to take out orders only, no dine-in sitting,” Alberts, Jr. said.

Charlie Murphy, owner of Hartsel’s Only Pizza Place, said he has seen a decrease in business, but it is always pretty slow during mud season in Hartsel.

Murphy has implemented the Center for Disease Control and Prevention requirements.

“I’m using the CDC recommended sanitizer requirements and overall using bleach a lot more on all frequently touched surfaces.”

Murphy is also not allowing the parmesan, red pepper, salt and pepper shakers or hot sauce to be out on the counter.

Murphy is considering additional future options, “I might walk out to cars to prevent customers from entering the property to limit airborne contagions.”

The best practice is to call a business before you venture out, and find out how they are dealing with the emergency.

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