All the (Restaurant) News That’s Fit to Print

CRA's take on proposed COVID dial changes; 5 Star updates for three counties; Pikes Peak Restaurant Week; mental health; and energy savings (whew!).

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It's a newsy week here at DiningOut. /

The 5 Star Certification plan continues to spread across the state (though not as fast as COVID variants, unfortunately) with applications opening up in Denver, Boulder, and Pitkin counties this week. The Colorado Restaurant Association has also shared a letter sent to Governor Polis with feedback regarding upcoming changes to the state’s COVID dial that would benefit bars and restaurants.

Pikes Peak-area restaurants can now sign up for the region’s restaurant week for free; anyone can attend a pair of webinars on practical strategies for dealing with…everything…starting February 8; and Xcel Energy is offering free energy audits and rebates on on equipment upgrades through the end of March (because you have so much money laying around to spend, we’re sure).

The following information comes from the CRA’s February 1 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.

Read CRA’s Suggestions for the State’s COVID-19 Dial Framework

Due to the progression of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and subsequent higher levels of immunity for the 70 and older population, there is less pressure on the Colorado hospital systems. Therefore, the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have started considering updates and amendments to the state dial to reflect the changes brought by the vaccine rollout, and to loosen some of the more restrictive guidelines on businesses.

The Colorado Restaurant Association submitted a letter to the State today, proposing restaurant-friendly amendments to the dial that create a clear path to increased capacity and decreased restrictions on restaurants.

Read our letter here.

Federal Grant Relief Program Dedicated to Restaurants May Be Near

Late January 31, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the framework of the COVID-19 stimulus bill they hope to unveil later this month. The framework includes a reference to a “dedicated grant relief program for restaurants” and Sen. Schumer has suggested that this program will receive $25 billion in funding. The language is still being drafted and the National Restaurant Association has been working with congressional leaders on how best to structure a program that will benefit the entire restaurant sector.  More details are needed, particularly whether the plan will eliminate the tip credit and institute a $15 wage. But it is encouraging news for our 10-month efforts to secure restaurant-specific relief for our industry.

Call to Action: If You Do Not Support the National Elimination of the Tip Credit, We Need Your Voice!

Last week, Congress introduced the “Raise the Wage Act of 2021,” which would increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour. This raise would take place incrementally over a five year period and then would increase based on the median wage growth. This legislation also proposes phasing out the tipped wage by 2027.

If you oppose the national elimination of the tip credit, lend your voice to the National Restaurant Association’s call to action to urge Congress to oppose changes to wage laws and elimination of the tip credit as our industry tries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speak out here.

Denver 5 Star Application Opens Feb. 2 at 10 a.m.

Denver 5 Star applications will open February 2 at 10 a.m. At that time, only 500 businesses will be able to apply and become pre-certified for the program.

The first round will be capped at 500 applications. The second round of applications will open to another 500 businesses two weeks later. If you plan to apply for the program, we strongly encourage you to prepare by watching the instructional videos and completing the pre-certification checklist available here. We suggest that you be ready to submit as soon as Denver’s application opens. 

There are two upcoming live town halls offering instructions to businesses who wish to apply for the 5 Star program.

Access the application here.

Boulder County 5 Star Application Opens Friday, Feb. 5, at 11 a.m.

Boulder County’s 5 Star Program applications will open Friday, February 5, at 11 a.m. 

Everything you need to prepare your application is available here – find instructional videos, inspection checklists, required application documents, and more. Approved Boulder restaurants will then be able to utilize the capacity guidelines and last call hours of the next, less restrictive dial level. Currently, 5 Star-certified restaurants in Boulder County will be able to operate in Level Yellow.

Find the program requirements for restaurants here. Review Level Yellow guidelines here.

Boulder County will be holding an informational webinar for all interested businesses at time of the application launch, Friday, February 5, at 11 a.m.

Register for the webinar here.

Pitkin County Moves to Level Orange and Implements 5 Star Program

Today, the Pitkin County Health Department announced the county’s 14-day incidence rate has dropped below 700, allowing the County to move back into Level Orange on the state dial. The move will take effect tomorrow, February 2, at midnight.

To review the Level Orange guidelines on the state’s dial framework, click here.

Pitkin County is also now accepting applications for the 5 Star Program. We are seeking additional information on how the County’s move to Level Orange will affect the operating allowance for 5 star-certified businesses. We will update you when we receive clarification.

Apply for Pitkin County’s 5 Star Program here.

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. Below is a list of the 5-Star operating allowances for each county.

  • Adams County – (pilot program open to first 100 restaurants, full approval pending) Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Arapahoe County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Archuleta County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Boulder County – Allows for current operation in Level Yellow
  • Broomfield County – Allows for current operation in Level Yellow
  • Denver County (application approved, implementation pending decrease in COVID-19 metrics)
  • Elbert County – Allows for current operation in Level Yellow
  • Douglas County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Garfield County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Jefferson County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • La Plata County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Larimer County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Moffat County – Allows for current operation in Level Yellow
  • Pitkin County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Pueblo County – Allows for current operation in Level Yellow
  • Routt County (application submitted, approval pending)
  • Summit County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange
  • Weld County – Allows for current operation in Level Orange

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.

Pikes Peak Restaurant Week Announced for April 2021 – Sign Up Now!

Hosted by Visit Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Chapter of The Colorado Restaurant Association, Pikes Peak Restaurant Week is set to launch April 9-18, 2021. In its second year, this event is dedicated to supporting local restaurants by getting customers through their doors.

Pikes Peak Restaurant Week was a huge success in 2019; the 2020 event was postponed due to COVID-19. The 2021 event is going to be bigger and better than ever. 

Restaurants do NOT have to pay a registration fee to participate this year, and a $25 gift card donation will not be necessary. The fees and grand prize giveaway will be covered by our sponsors.

Register and submit your menus by Friday, February 26.

Mental Health Webinars From UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group’s December 2020 mental health sessions led by Dr. Kate Burke with PatientsLikeMe on Practical Strategies for Coping with COVID-19 Stress and Anxiety were so well received that they are pleased to announce the next webinar in the series with Dr. Kate, brought to us courtesy of Optum and UnitedHealth Group.

Upcoming mental health webinars:

Free Energy Assessment from Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy wants to help you save money. Schedule a free energy assessment – time is running out! 

The past year has been hard on businesses, especially yours. Since restaurants typically consume more energy than other commercial spaces, energy efficiency measures can make a big difference in reducing operating costs. Xcel Energy can help. Xcel Energy is offering restaurants free energy assessments and no-cost upgrades, including select LEDs, bathroom sink aerators and pre-rinse spray valves. Xcel Energy is also offering a limited time, 25% bonus rebate on qualifying equipment – available only to restaurants – until March 31, 2021. Get started today!

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


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