Q. & A. with Sonia Riggs, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association: Taking a measure of today’s restaurant industry

We know we’ve lost hundreds of restaurants across the state. More pressingly, [after the CRA’s October Restaurant Impact Survey] 50% are telling us they will consider closing permanently within 6 months, no doubt because they are worried about ongoing restrictions on capacity and because they have not seen a second round of significant cash relief at the federal level. The Colorado restaurant industry was a $14.5 billion industry in 2019, but it is down billions of dollars in 2020 — we estimate it lost nearly $1 billion in April alone.

Big Trouble Little Dumpling Opens with Socially Distanced Driveway Soup Kitchen

If you ask Sam Graf, he’ll tell you dumplings are the perfect food. In fact, he’ll tell you he doesn’t think he’s met anybody who doesn’t like dumplings. This isn’t an idle statement. Graf will also tell you how the dumplings he cooks in his driveway never stick around for long.

Graf has spent ten years exploring dumpling houses. Growing up, he ate potstickers, typically the frozen ones. His first taste of an authentic Asian dumpling was in New York City, in a counter shop lined by steam tables filled with dumplings. You pick out a bunch and they go into a box. From Chicago dim sum to SoHo, Graf has sampled dumplings in big cities and dumplings cooked in shacks to experience the art form. Learning along the way, it reaffirmed he was on the right track but still had to taste more.

RamaMama restaurateur gets what he needs, if not what he wanted

After the pandemic’s arrival and abrupt shutdowns, Lawyer used the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program to float payroll for his core employee base. But when the non-profit Homeward Alliance reached out with a plan to provide two meals daily to homeless people at the Northside Aztland Center in downtown FOCO, he found an opportunity to coordinate with the rescue mission and Catholic Charities to minimize the downtown FOCO homeless population footprint. For 68 day days straight — the beginning of April and into June —, he woke at 4:30 each morning to prepare individually boxed, ready to serve meals. A tight budget required menu creativity, and with little to no employees, he pulled it all together. Lawyer said he was lucky to have the equipment and the commissary — the hub of his company’s food truck and catering operations.