Denver restaurateur pivots to outdoor dining concept, but with winter in full force she’s back to the drawing board

In the nine months following the initial coronavirus outbreak, small business owners across the United States continue to struggle to keep up with the changing demands of the global health crisis. From adapting business plans to launching new business ideas, entrepreneurs have been forced to be quick on their feet—or perish. As many as 1 in 3 small business owners in our network reported they would not make it past the end of year without additional federal funding. And yet, policymakers continue to debate and negotiate a relief package that will probably not see the light of day before the New Year comes. 

At Small Business Majority, we’re continuing to connect with members of our network about what they’re facing due to the lack of additional stimulus and new challenges stemming from the winter season and a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

For entrepreneur Kendra Anderson, the coronavirus pandemic has been nothing short of devastating. As owner of Bar Helix in Denver, Colo., Kendra was forced to close her bar and restaurant at the height of the crisis in March.

Public health orders placed restrictions on businesses like Kendra’s, so she took some time to get her finances in order and came up with a new business idea. She launched an entirely new restaurant concept called Cabana X at Bar Helix, which only offered outdoor dining and a totally different food and beverage menu from her original business. She ran that operation from early July through early October while the weather permitted. 

But now that winter has set in, Kendra’s back to square one. With Bar Helix still closed for business, she is trying to come up with another solution while she waits for a larger relief package at the federal level to pass. She shares, “Every other bar or restaurant owner I know is on the verge of closing for good. We’re completely out of options at this point.”

Unfortunately, Kendra has been forced to furlough her employees since her business remains closed. She shares, “While we would like nothing more than to re-open Bar Helix, the current operating limitations simply make it untenable for us to do so.”  

But if given the opportunity, Kendra would apply for another round of loans from the Paycheck Protection Program “to try and save her business.” 

Some states like California and Colorado have made strides to provide state relief measures for small businesses, but small business owners need a more robust relief program that will focus on long-term recovery. For now, Kendra will begin looking at the new grant and loan opportunities passed during Colorado’s special legislative session.

Small Business Majority is sharing stories like Kendra Anderson’s to educate policymakers about what small business owners need in order to survive this crisis. Help us spread the word that policymakers need to do more to support business owners in order for our economy to recover by sharing your story or signing our letter to Congress to ask for long-term relief.

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