Even in serene mountain communities, the unpredictable nature of a viral pandemic are more than enough to prompt increased levels of anxiety. And for local business owners, especially those in the restaurant industry, the added stress of economic hardship over an extended period of time does little to ease the discomfort.
In the face of unprecedented financial distress and unpredictability, however, the reaction to the crisis amongst the residents of Park County has been, well, predictable.
At the Rustic Station Restaurant in Bailey, for example, where business has been reduced to call-in and take-out orders only, co-owner Lynn Griffin was busily cleaning and rearranging chairs and tables throughout the establishment on the morning of March 20.
“We are never shut down long enough to do some of the things we are doing here today, so we are taking advantage of our downtime,” Griffin said cheerfully.
“Our customers have been great about ordering take-outs, and many of them have come by just to check on us and to say hello,” Griffin said. “The people in this community are amazing … one man even came by and flat out gave us a donation.”
Griffin co-owns the Rustic Station with her husband, Dennis. As soon as the closure of eating establishments was announced, the Griffins called all of their managers together to establish a game plan.
“The staff has been terrific, and many are coming in to help out,” Griffin said. “We have offered them an hourly wage rather than the usual arrangement with tips, and we appreciate the staff and how they have handled the changes.”
A strikingly similar scene was unfolding nearby at the Cutthroat Café in Bailey, where manager Dellynn Combs was also rearranging and cleaning while simultaneously handling calls for take-out orders.
The Cutthroat Café is also delivering meals as a means of maximizing income during the mandatory shutdown.
“I think I would drive about anywhere to deliver meal right now,” Combs said with a chuckle.
Combs suddenly whirled around to answer the phone and began taking meticulous notes. After taking the order, she immediately rushed it to the kitchen.
“Here you go, Chip.”
Cutthroat Café owner, Chip Thomas, dutifully received the order and hustled to prepare the food for delivery.
“It’s just Chip and me right now,” Combs said. “Employees have all been offered the option of coming in on a limited basis to make deliveries, but that’s about it in terms of staff at the moment.”
Combs added that even though take-out orders had been steady, those orders only account for only a small fraction of the business the café usually enjoys. Even with limited staff, however, the menu at most all of the local dining establishments are offering call-in and take-out orders, and a number of them are also offering deliveries.
“Our full menu is available, and breakfast is served all day,” Combs said proudly.