Lone Tree begins reopening process

Many restaurants resume dine-in service

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Lone Tree businesses are once again opening after almost two months of statewide shutdown orders. Restaurants, gyms, salons and stores are back, provided social distancing guidelines are maintained. And county leaders are looking at other ways to begin opening playgrounds, pools and more.

Douglas County restaurants received the green light from the state to allow dine-in service again May 24, five days before the statewide order was changed to allow dine-in service at 50% capacity. Lone Tree restaurants responded promptly, many making necessary changes to their dining area to adhere to the guidelines.

The Clock Tower Grill at Lincoln Station removed all bar seating and spaced tables out 6 feet apart. Servers and bartenders wear masks, while customers are encouraged to wear masks when they are not eating.

While Lone Tree restaurants are finding ways to reopen, managers still miss the pre-pandemic lunch rush in a city with much daytime economic activity, driven by Park Meadows mall and complexes like Charles Schwab and Sky Ridge Medical Center, which employ thousands of people. Before the pandemic, city’s daytime population of about 15,000 doubled during a workday.

Karrie Nolan-McCorkle, catering services manager at Newk’s Eatery, said curbside and take-out sales still make up the bulk of their revenue.

“We used to have really heavy lunch sales,” Nolan-McCorkle said.

Newk’s, a sandwich shop in RidgeGate, re-opened for dine-in May 27. Employees check the temperature of each customer who comes in. Hand sanitizer is provided throughout the shop and some tables have been removed to limit capacity. Employees are screened when they come in as well.

“We’ve been planning this for a while, and now it’s here,” Nolan-McCorkle said.

‘We remain inspired’

Charles Schwab officials said that while the company has been able to operate with employees working remotely, there is no timetable for when employees will return to the office.

Spokesperson Mayura Hooper made a statement via email on behalf of the Lone Tree Charles Schwab:

“Considering guidance from health experts, the CDC, the government and the logistics involved in preparing for a larger population of employees to be on site, we have made the decision to hold off on executing any company-wide return-to-office plans until at least September and have encouraged our employees who can work from home to continue to do so. We hope this time will allow our employees to plan for their families and stay safe over the summer months.”

The statement added: “When the time is right to return to the office, we will follow a coordinated, top-down and phased approach that safeguards our teams at every step. We remain inspired by — and grateful for — our employees during this time and the way they have cared for one another, for our clients and for our communities.”

After successfully lobbying the state to allow dine-in service, Douglas County commissioners announced May 29 they are drafting nine new variance requests to open playgrounds, pools, libraries, movie theaters, event spaces and more. (See the story on Page 3.)

The Lone Tree Arts Center is a theater space still closed due to COVID-19. The Douglas County Library in RidgeGate also remains closed, as do the indoor recreation centers run by South Suburban Parks and Recreation.

For restaurants and retail owners, the new normal is becoming less new. After one week of dine-in service being allowed once again, restauranteurs are looking at what this means for the future of the industry.

Having worked in the restaurant industry for seven years, Nolan-McCorkle said she knew immediately the industry may never be the same.

“A lot of people recognize we stayed open and fought through this and they’re more eager to support those who fought through it,” she said.

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