“They think they are helping but in fact hurt us.”
That’s Kevin Grossi’s take on the 5 Star Certification Program—at least as it’s being administered by Larimer County’s health department. “A lot of us were excited [about the program],” he explains, “especially with the opportunity to allow guests in for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.”
That’s not what happened for Grossi, the owner of the Regional in Fort Collins. He submitted an application for the program on December 23, thinking he’d be approved, inspected, and able to seat customers inside (at 25 percent capacity) on New Year’s Eve. Then he waited. And waited.
“The problem was the timing of it,” Grossi notes. “There was zero communication about when we’ll get inspections.” The Regional wasn’t inspected until January 4. (Compare that to Summit County, which inspected over 100 restaurants in two days.)
Grossi later discovered that preapplications had been available prior to December 23, and some restaurants were able to receive 5 Star Certification before December 31. He says the info about preapplications was communicated only via a single email. “Their communication platform sucks,” he says. “There was no urgency in Larimer County’s messaging about timelines….Why did you do this now? Why wouldn’t you have waited until after the New Year to give us all an even playing field?”
He notes an increasingly common refrain about restaurant resources that’s obvious but deeply frustrating to smaller operations: “The places that have the ability to fill out applications, that have more people to do it, get more funding.”
“We couldn’t open our doors on the busiest day of the year although others could. It was unfortunately a process that ended up costing us a few thousand dollars in lost revenue not because of food, service, or quality, but instead because a guest can choose to be warm or not while eating dinner.”