Businesses in the Cherry Creek North district encourage guests to visit over the Valentine’s Day weekend even if temperatures are hovering around the single digits and expected to drop below zero on Sunday. During the pandemic, stores and restaurants have dealt with similar challenges to this blast of cold weather from the polar vortex.
“The last year has been pretty wild, we’ve done a lot of adjusting, a lot of pivoting,” said Daniel Blythe, executive chef of Blue Island Oyster Bar. “Valentine’s Day weekend is huge for the restaurant business, next to Mother’s Day, it’s one of the busiest days of the year.”
The locally-owned restaurant is one of 260 small businesses that make up the highest concentration of any neighborhood in the metro area, according to Cherry Creek North. The Business Improvement District says its members have created experiences for anyone’s comfort level, whether it be in the cold or concerns about COVID-19.
“This weekend is a very important time for us here in Cherry Creek North,” said Jeannie McFarland Johnson, the marketing and communications director for the district. “We really want to be able to bring awareness to the local businesses here in the area.”
McFarland Johnson remembers visiting the store, Show of Hands, when she was a young girl. Just part of their long history in the neighborhood for 45 years. It offers gifts from a range of prices and features the work of local makers.
“We really want to be able to help them stay open so they can continue to be here and continue to serve our community,” she told CBS4 on Friday. “To support this local business is not only helping this individual local business but it is expanding beyond that and really supporting those local artisans within our community.”
The temperature was near the single digits as McFarland Johnson pointed out some of the unique features of the district. Festive lights remain along the streets and outdoor dining setups can be seen block after block. Restaurants say they will offer patio seating and other options outside to those who want it over the weekend.
“Come to the neighborhood, see the lights, hang out, let us do the cooking, you bring the food home to your family,” Blythe told CBS4 inside his restaurant. “We’re kind of a hearty bunch, we don’t get scared of the cold.”
To-go orders are also another option for anyone looking to enjoy a special meal for the holiday weekend without bothering with the weather or any coronavirus restrictions. Some shops also have online ordering or can deliver items to you curbside.
“Many of the businesses have created some very clever, clever plans to make sure that you can still get the shows of affection that you might want this weekend and beyond,” McFarland Johnson said. “They’ve each pivoted in their own ways to figure out how to connect to their consumers and we all can find a way to live our lives.”
She also mentioned that valet parking or hotel packages could be other options to keep your visit quick or extend it for the whole weekend and avoid the cold. Seventy percent of the shops and restaurants in Cherry Creek North are small businesses, McFarland Johnson believes the district captures the character of the Mile High City and is at the heart of its retail and artistic communities.
“A unique voice, and unique products, and unique services, and unique experiences for everyone here in Denver,” she said.