As I sit here in the delivery room at Yampa Valley Medical Center watching my rock star wife rest while in early stages of labor, I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like — in a few hours, tomorrow, or six months from now. As if the stress and pressures that come with expecting a child and owning four restaurants was not enough, throw a global pandemic into the mix and see what happens next.
Over the course of the last month I, like most, have ridden a wave of varying emotions due to the COVID-19 crisis and shutdown. The first was shock and disbelief; then fear and anxiety, which evolved into a bit of selfishness and self-preservation, then moments to exhale and understand that we are, in fact, all in this together. There have been moments of peace, but mostly days of uncertainty.
Despite the unknown and like many other restaurants, our teams at Aurum Breckenridge and Aurum Steamboat Springs pivoted quickly, offering meals, wine and cocktails to-go. Before mid-March, wearing masks, gloves and delivering food directly to the trunks of our guests’ cars was not in our business plan, but it enabled our teams to safely continue working, share our love of hospitality during uncertain times and help feed our neighbors.
As an entrepreneur, this moment in time does not come naturally. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are “hustlers.” We are accustomed to success or failure resting firmly on our own shoulders. Now, after building a small and successful hospitality group over the past six years, we find ourselves stopped dead in our tracks by something we had absolutely no control over. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve experienced plenty of failures in my life, but none that I could not blame directly on myself.
Looking forward, I am hopeful that the future is bright: not just for myself or for my wife, and not just for the 150 employees of Destination Hospitality, but for the beautiful bundle of joy – our days-old baby girl, Ryder Jean — that I’m currently holding in my arms. It’s important that we remain positive, support one another, and ensure that small, independently owned businesses come back – and do so stronger than ever.
After witnessing some incredibly heroic and inspiring acts of humanity during this crisis – including health care, emergency services and hospitality workers on the frontline taking care of and feeding the most vulnerable members of our communities – I hope that we emerge on the other side of this with the strength, empathy, patience and creativity that helped us get through it together.
This pandemic has taught me of a lot of things, not least of which is that social interaction is not to be taken for granted, but a necessary component of humanity as a whole. I look forward to bellying up to my favorite bars, pulling out a chair at my beloved restaurants, and having face-to-face conversations about, well, just about anything.