Denver Approved for 5 Star Certification

Denver finally joins the 5 Star fray, and Boulder bars and restaurants can now apply for small business grants.

16th Street Mall in downtown Denver Colorado at night with busses, trees, people and clocktower.
Here's hoping Denver's approval for the 5 Star Certification Program heralds happier days ahead for the city's restaurants. / littleny ©

Denver has big news: It’s finally been approved for the 5 Star Certification Program. Our friends at EatDenver wisely counsel restaurants that may be interested in participating to take a look at other counties’ program applications (see below for links). They won’t be the same as Denver’s, but they’ll give you an idea of what to expect so you can be prepared to submit your application right away. (With 7,000 restaurants in Denver County, you’ll want to apply as early as possible.) And even if you’re not planning on pursuing the certification, you’ll save some coin due to Denver’s decision to waive its retail food licensing fee this year.

Boulder businesses: Chime in to tell the county whether you’d pursue the 5 Star Certification if it was available, and get your application in for a Small Business Relief Grant before January 29.

There are also more resources out there for employment and labor law changes that went into effect January 1, and the Colorado Restaurant Association has launched a new grassroots activism guide with info on reaching out to your elected official and media (that’s DiningOut Magazine!).

The following information comes from the CRA’s January 14 newsletter. Sign up to receive the full version here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center and on our Covid-19 Reopening Resources for general info.

Restaurant Grassroots Activism Guide

We are working every day to get you relief to survive this crisis, but we are more powerful if we are united and loud. Many of you have asked how you can help. To that end, we have compiled a list of action items including messages and guidelines you can use to reach out to your elected officials and the media.

View our grassroots activism guide here, and lend your voice here.

We are preparing to launch a campaign to engage the public around our industry’s needs. We need your help! Please submit 200 words or less telling your business’s story through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note: these stories will be shared with the public and with the media. Submit your story here. Please also send a photograph of yourself we can use to accompany your story to Please ensure that you own this photo and send us the photographer accreditation if necessary. 

We need to be united, we need to be loud, we need to be helped. Please reach out to us at if you need anything at all.

Denver Approved for 5 Star Certification Program

On January 14, the City and County of Denver received approval from the State on their application to the 5 Star Certification Program. In order to begin implementing the program, however, Denver must see seven days of Level Orange COVID-19 case metrics. The city plans to open their application portal soon, and will start pre-certifying businesses at that time. As soon as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) notifies Denver that they are allowed to begin the program, all pre-certified businesses, and future applicants, will be able to operate in the next less severe level on the state dial. 

The City is requesting businesses identify as many team members as possible to serve as volunteer auditors. They will be asked to work a minimum of 20 hours per week for five weeks, to be paid by the sponsoring restaurant. Their role will be to conduct in-person inspections at businesses located in the City and County of Denver that have applied for 5 Star certification. If you have employees that are interested in volunteering, view the guidelines here and email

We will provide the application link as soon as it is live and continue to provide updates on the status of the program. For more information on Denver’s 5 Star Program click here. 

Denver Waives Retail Food License Fee

The City and County of Denver is waiving the 2021 renewal fees for the required retail food establishment license. Renewal fees for this license range from approximately $125-$400 per location.

Licensing is still required. Business that have already paid their retail food establishment renewal fees for 2021 can call 311 and request a refund from the Department of Excise and Licenses.

Tell Boulder County if You Would Apply for the 5 Star Program

Boulder County’s 5 Star Administrative Committee intends to submit an application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to manage a local 5 Star program as soon as possible, if there is support from all stakeholders and the County’s public health data on the state Dial indicates it is eligible to implement the program.

Boulder restaurateurs, if you would be interested in applying for the 5 Star Program, please fill out this form. 

The program would not be up and running until CDPHE approves the application. If approved, Boulder County’s proposed 5 Star Certification Program would employ the services of a third-party vendor. For questions on the program, please contact the Boulder Chamber’s Senior Director of Economic Vitality, Corine Waldau, at

We will keep you posted as we hear of progress with Boulder County’s 5 Star Program.

Applications Are Open for Boulder County Small Business Relief Grant Program

Applications are open for Boulder County’s Small Business Grant Relief program. The program is funded by the State of Colorado, which has specified that eligibility for the funding is limited to restaurants, caterers, and bars (including breweries, wineries, and distilleries) with annual receipts of $2.5 million or less. 

To qualify, businesses must have experienced at least a 20% reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 26, 2020. Grant awards will be awarded up to $7,000. The online application period extends through January 29, 2021.

View eligibility rules and apply here.

2021 Labor and Employment Law Compliance Resources

A set of new labor and employment laws took effect on January 1, 2021. In order to help restaurants ensure they are compliant with this new set of laws, we have added the full question and answer report from our webinar with Fisher & Phillips to our list of resources to answer all of your questions. 

View the Q&A report here.

View the recording from our webinar with Fisher & Phillips here.

Find more information on our website here.

We are here to help and are happy to answer any labor law and 2021 compliance questions. Out of respect for our legal resource center partners, please view the webinar and review the Q&A first to see if we have already addressed your concerns. Any unanswered questions can be sent to

5 Star State Certification Program County Guide

We are beginning to see restaurants reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity in counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs. If you have any questions regarding what guidelines certified restaurants have to follow, click here.

Counties interested in implementing the 5 Star State Certification Program must submit a variance application for State approval. Once approved, the county can then launch its application for businesses. Interested businesses can apply for the program through their local county application system. Approved restaurants can then utilize the capacity guidelines and last call hours of the next, less restrictive dial level.

We will continue to provide an updated list of counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs and how to find details on the specifics of the program and application process in each county:

You can also access our 5 Star County Guide on our website here. You can read more about the 5 Star State Certification Program here.

Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to


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