Coffee shop reacts to El Paso County’s variance request for restaurants

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Restaurants across the state are waiting for the governor to release final guidelines on how to open dine-in services. Meanwhile, El Paso County is waiting for Governor Jared Polis to approve their variance, which would allow restaurants to open dine-in early but with restrictions.

A county spokesperson said the variance has been approved by all necessary entities including local hospitals.

“The Exchange” in Downtown Colorado Springs is preparing for final guidelines to come down by the state. At this time, Colorado is looking at drafted guidelines and will roll out a final draft within the next few days.

“We’re dying to be back open,” President of the Exchange Andy Schlesinger said. “We wish it could be back to normal, we don’t know what the new normal is.”

The county’s variance, as it stands, imposes restrictions on dine-in services, those limitations causing concern for the Exchange.

“I think the county is adding more stipulations, just so they can open earlier, and to just open a few days early, it’s not worth it for us,” Schlesinger said.

The Exchange is looking at the county’s variance for guidance. They’re working on seating but are unsure requiring reservations, as stated in the variance, would work for them.

“Who’s going to call for reservation to have a cup of coffee and a muffin,” Schlesinger asked.

They are also looking at limiting capacity, a cleaning schedule, and weighing in on taking customer’s information, just in case a future outbreak was to happen.

“I think it’s important that we’re able to contact people if someone gets sick, but at the same time I don’t know how to weigh that against the person’s privacy,” Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger and his team are determined to do what’s best for business after furloughing 19 employees and seeing a drop in sales.

“We will keep doing take out and deliver until we can open with some reasonable guidelines, people’s health is super important but you can’t kill us off and not have a way to make the money we need to make,” Schlesinger said.

The variance was approved by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners last week.

“As a board, we are all excited to support this variance request and get people back to work. Each day that goes by without a variance is another day that many small business owners and their employees step closer to financial disaster. We’re hopeful, for the sake of our community, that this variance request will be approved as soon as possible.”

El Paso County Board of Commissioners Chief Public Information Officer Ryan Parsell

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