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Dine Out Downtown, a summer program with expanded outdoor seating for downtown restaurants, was a hit with diners on South Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs. Restaurants were hit hard during COVID-19 closures. Since reopening to in-person dining, spacing guidelines have created diminished capacity and the outdoor seating helps the restaurants to accommodate more customers. The program will continue throughout the Summer on Friday and Saturday nights.

Applications are open for the Winter Outdoor Grant Program, providing funding for Colorado restaurants to create outdoor dining spaces this winter.

The program was created by Gov. Jared Polis in partnership with the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado Restaurant Foundation and Xcel Energy.

“This innovative program offers funding and inspiration to make outdoor dining plausible through the cold months,” Polis said. “It will give restaurants means to keep their doors open, to keep their staff employed and to continue to safely serve our communities.”

The grant funds can be used for design, construction, fees and supplies such as tents and heaters. Grants will be distributed through the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.

Eligible restaurants must be located in Colorado and be majority-owned by Colorado residents. Restaurants must be open for on-site food and/or beverage service at least five days a week.

Applicants must be able to prove a yearly revenue loss of at least 20% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The restaurant industry is critical to the economic health of the state of Colorado, and it’s vital to the well-being of our local communities,” Polis said. “We need to continue to support our restaurants, even as we work to contain the virus and reduce transmission.”

The grants, in part, consist of a $500,000 contribution from Xcel. Xcel is also matching donations of $50,000, up to an additional $250,000, for every $500,000 raised.

Winterization projects should be completed by Jan. 15.

Applications are available at cooutdoordining.org/colorado-winter-outdoor-grants-application.

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