How Covid-19 Has Affected One Local Restaurant

December 16, 2020

Like many restaurants, Comet Chicken has had to adjust during the Covid-19 pandemic. The restaurant, which is locally owned and located in downtown Fort Collins on Mountain Ave. is currently open for takeout and delivery. After a move to red level precautions in Larimer County, Comet Chicken closed dine-in services.

Aly Pillard, a team member at the restaurant, expressed gratitude over the restaurant’s handling of the pandemic.

“We all wear masks and sanitize often,” she said. “I actually feel pretty safe at work.”

The general manager of the restaurant, Sehoo Park echoed this sentiment, saying that he felt safer at Comet Chicken than other restaurants.

Park has worked for several other restaurants under the same owner — Hot Corner Concepts — including the Moot House, Austin’s, and Big Al’s. He has been a manager for three years.

“No one has gotten sick at our store,” Park said. He detailed the value of protocols such as wearing masks, handwashing, and sanitizing surfaces regularly.

Despite handling the protocols well, adjusting to the pandemic has not been easy. According to Park, Comet Chicken has adjusted their strategy and focused on delivery to keep high levels of sales.

“Sales are definitely harder. There have been a lot of product shortages and price increases,” Park said. “It’s just harder to run a business right now.”

According to Park, Comet Chicken has discontinued some menu items as they were not profitable enough. Other supplies, like gloves, increased rapidly in price as well. However, Comet Chicken has found success through delivery services like Noco Nosh and Door Dash.

The Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis has encouraged citizens to follow Covid-19 protocols. He highlighted the detriment of rising virus number in a recent press conference.

“The changes we’re implementing are not just important for public health, but also for our economy.” Gov. Polis said.

Park explained that many other restaurants in town have closed, either temporarily or permanently. Two restaurants, the Moot House and Austin’s, both owned by Hot Corner Concepts had to shut down temporarily when Larimer County moved to red level precautions. Unlike Comet Chicken, these restaurants are not as popular for take-out and get fewer orders from delivery services like Noco Nosh. Even on a local scale, Park has seen how the pandemic can impact lots of people. According to Park, many people have lost their jobs and cannot pay bills.

Hot Corner Concepts has mitigated some of these effects by encouraging laid-off employees to file for unemployment and offering free meals to employees in need. However, many other companies are unwilling or unable to provide similar benefits.

Eliana is a third-year journalism and political science student at Colorado State University. She is passionate about writing and sharing important stories.