As per the most recently passed variance, T’s Bar and Grill and T’s Too in Cedaredge and Eckert respectively have been operating at 50% dine-in capacity. Throughout the regulations, both locations have offered takeout services, never closing as the COVID-19 pandemic started affecting businesses.
T’s Too, however, which is the newest location, has an unusual pandemic story. It wasn’t only affected by the pandemic. It was born into it.
According to Tony Chavez, owner of both locations and various concession stands across the county, T’s Too had next to no normal operation time before the virus hit, but staff was quick to adapt.
A row of tables that had been in a row down the center of the dining area are now outside, lining the sidewall of the gas station building which houses the restaurant.
“We follow the rules,” Chavez said. “We sanitize everything. When a customer leaves, we have sanitizer, we sanitize the salt and pepper shakers, everything. We wipe down everything before a new person comes in and sets up.”
Chavez noted that COVID-19 didn’t particularly bring large changes to sanitation, as he and his staff were already plenty cautious about cleanliness.
The booths that are permanently fixed in the restaurant are almost spaced in a way that would follow social-distancing regulations automatically. Chavez pointed out one booth in the restaurant that would need to remain empty in case the dining area reached capacity.
The tables outside are more than 6 feet apart, spanning almost the entire side of the gas station. In fact, Chavez has further plans for a nicer patio area along the side of the business, as people enjoy eating outside in the summer whether there’s a pandemic or not.
“Just to keep everyone where they feel safe and all that,” Chavez said. “They come and know that they can eat here.”
According to Chavez, neither T’s Too nor the original T’s Bar and Grill rely heavily on dine-in for the business to survive. Enough people order takeout regularly that the restrictions on dine-in services didn’t condemn them, though it still affected them.
“I didn’t have to close, but we did lose customers,” Chavez said. He referenced the start of the virus when no one would leave home and the stay-at-home orders were leading people to do just that. He estimated that they were getting about 25% of their daily business during that time. He estimated that, now, it’s more like 35%, as it’s slowly rising back.
Being at a gas station means that T’s Too relies heavily on people traveling through the area and wanting to make a pitstop to eat, Chavez said, in addition to organizational and church groups that go out to eat in large groups. These are the demographics that have gone away and not come back at this time.
Staff of T’s Too has not reached the regulated capacity at this time, and customers often intend to eat outside or take their meals to go from the start.
At this time, Chavez is certain that, while the pandemic is hard on the business’s savings account, T’s Bar and Grill and T’s Too aren’t going anywhere. It’s in a stable position with the business it has been receiving, to the point that Chavez never applied for state funding during the beginning of the restrictions. As the Payroll Protection Plan funds were going out, he didn’t want to divert money from businesses that would need it more.
“I’m going to make it, and I’m not going nowhere,” Chavez said. “I hope my grandkids are going to take over, and we’ll be here for generations.”