My Brothers Bar had to make changes to the way they operate just like so many other restaurants but some of those changes they plan to keep even after the pandemic ends.
JIM BENEMANN: On this day one year ago, Colorado businesses were starting to react to the spread of the coronavirus. Many restaurants were considering closing or how to switch to takeout ahead of a lockdown that would be announced later last March. Well, our Shawn Chitnis checked back in on the survival of one of those businesses. And Shawn, as the Grateful Dead might say, what a long, strange trip this has been.
SHAWN CHITNIS: But it sounds like that trip might be over soon, Jim. At least that's certainly what we all hope. Think back, though, to March 16, 2020. We all didn't realize how important masks would be. We were talking about how warm the weather that was, and we were surprised to learn that St. Patrick's Day plans were going to have to be canceled.
A year later, we wear masks, we're dealing with snow, St. Patrick's Day is still not going to be the same, but places like this one, My Brother's Bar, have learned a lot in that time. One of the oldest indoor businesses in town has become one of the newest outdoor-only experiences in Denver.
- This has been exciting for us. It's been an interesting experiment. We thought we could never survive without a parking lot, without parking for our customers.
SHAWN CHITNIS: My Brother's Bar is in a building more than 150 years old, so to avoid issues with ventilation, they've relied on an expanded patio, adding igloos last September. Take out wasn't even advertised before. Now it's a huge part of their business.
- We definitely have taken a hit, obviously, on all fronts, but the liquor sales are what are even more dramatically down.
SHAWN CHITNIS: A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, they're still a year out from reaching the revenue they saw before.
- I definitely feel like there's a solid light at the end of the tunnel. I think for a lot of 2020, not knowing what the future held was terrifying.
SHAWN CHITNIS: A Denver establishment that has continuously served beers and spirits since 1873 is on track to survive not just one pandemic but two, a century apart. And while they've embraced the trends that were essential to stay open, they're eager to get back to the tradition that got them started.
- It's just exciting, and as cool as a lot of these new things are, we really can't wait to open up inside again too.
SHAWN CHITNIS: And the owner tells us he thinks indoor dining could return here to My Brother's Bar this fall, but some of those changes that they've made temporarily are likely to become permanent. To-go sales for liquor, they're hoping that will stick around. Also, all of this outdoor dining they want to keep. And they say one good thing to look forward to when this is all said and done, last call should be extended. Reporting live tonight in Denver, Shawn Chitnis, covering Colorado first.