Brunch can be a big draw for many restaurants, including at Sam’s No. 3 Diner in Denver, where the wait time to be seated on weekends could take up to two hours.
“It gets crowded on that sidewalk out there,” said owner Sam Armatas.
Pre-pandemic, Armatas says the iconic downtown diner had more than 180 seats. Now, with new health restrictions, that number has been cut to 83.
“Business has been affected greatly,” Armatas said. “It’s a different world, it’s a different way to operate, and it’s a different way to serve.”
Less seating means fewer opportunities to make money, which led management at Sam’s to look outside their restaurant to serve more customers.
“I kind of just looked over at my neighbor and thought, ‘Hey, they’re not using that patio during the day. Maybe I can use that patio during the day,’” Armatas said. “So, I got in contact with Matt.”
Matt Ruff is the general manager and part owner of Dazzle, one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world.
“It’s kind of foolish not to lend our neighbors a hand during this time,” Ruff said.
Ruff is lending Dazzle’s outdoor patio space to Sam’s during the day for free, a move customers seem to appreciate while industry experts are calling it a financial Band-Aid.
According to the National Restaurant Association, somewhere between 15,000 to 20,000 restaurants across the country closed their doors for good during this pandemic.
Experts expect that number to increase nationwide as an estimated 8,000,000 American service industry workers are already out of jobs.
“We’re monthly doing the revenue we would do on a good Saturday,” Ruff said. “How do you survive with doing something like that?”
So far, this partnership with Dazzle and Sam’s sharing space seems to be working out well for both businesses.
“It’s been awesome,” Armatas said. ”It’s an additional 12 to 15 seats that we didn’t have before.”
The plan is to continue sharing this space until these establishments are able to operate at full capacity or the weather no longer allows for outdoor seating.