As shutdown continues, businesses feel the consequences

The U.S. government shutdown now longest in national history


Editor’s Note: This story was filed for print on Jan. 21 as the federal shutdown continued.

Nick’s Cafe has built a loyal following in Golden that included Elvis Presley who once flew his private jet out to Colorado to buy his daughter Fool’s Gold sandwiches for her birthday – a sandwich built on a sourdough loaf with a pound of bacon, peanut butter and blueberry jelly inside. The King is Nick’s Cafe’s most famous customer, but according to the owner, it is the usual crowd of federal workers who used to frequent the place for lunch, that have found a new place to dwell ... since they aren’t at work or getting paid.

As the U.S. government partial shutdown nearly hits a month, the more than 50,000 federal workers in Colorado who are out of work aren’t the only ones who are suffering – businesses are also feeling the effects.

Nick’s Cafe is just five minutes down the road from the Federal Center – a 623-acre campus that is home to 28 different federal agencies in 44 office buildings. Once the U.S. government went into a partial shutdown, Cafe owner Nick Andurlakis said he has seen some of its most loyal customers stop coming in.

“Business has slowed down,” said Andurlakis. “I’m not saying Trump is right, or wrong, but my whole thing on this that the government should open up again.”

The U.S. government went in a partial shutdown when President Donald Trump requested more than $5 billion from Congress to be added to federal spending legislation to pay for a wall on the Mexico border. Democrats denied funding Trump’s wall, and he has refused to back down from his request, causing the shutdown.

Management at other restaurants close to the Federal Center, like Jose O’Shea’s, a Mexican restaurant that has been in Lakewood since 1978, report feeling the burden of the government shutdown as well. Chad Hotchkiss, owner of Jose O’Shea’s, said it’s hard to put a number on how much business has dropped, but he’s thankful that the restaurant has a loyal following.

“It is what it is, some days are worse than others. It can get worse, before it gets better,” said Hotchkiss. “We still get a good amount of foot traffic, but not as much the last week, and you can start to see that a little more.”

Impact on alcohol

Bryan Simpson, a spokesperson for New Belgium Brewing, said the implications of the partial government shutdown can be severe.  

“If you have beer, and you can’t get your approval (from the federal government) – it just can’t sit around. There is a potential for people to have to dump beer, and that’s what the industry is worried about,” said Simpson. “The potential for massive destruction is great. (The partial government shutdown) is not good for anyone.”

In Longmont, Dry Land Distillers had been working for months on a gin that was made of only Colorado botanicals -- something that has never been done before, according to Nels Wroe, co-founder of the distillery. Wroe was planning on launching the winter gin at a release party in February, but those plans faded when the government partially shutdown. The gin can’t be sold, because the bottles need federally approved labels, and employees at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau are not there to do the job.  

“We’re a small business, it does have an impact on our plans and revenue. It took us an unbelievably longer time than we thought to get the recipe right,” said Wroe. “As the shutdown continues, we’re going to see more and more of those delayed negative effects coming through. It’s a waterfall effect. It starts upstream, and as time goes on, it hits everyone downstream.”  


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