Like restaurants across the country, 2020 has been tough on Durango Diner, but the iconic Southwest Colorado breakfast cafe got some good news with the new year.
Durango Diner was chosen by media entrepreneur Dave Portnoy for funding through his Barstool Fund, which he’s started to help small businesses across the country endure business restrictions required by public health orders issued to limit transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diner, owned by Gary and Donna Broad, is now one of 73 independently owned small businesses chosen for funding via Portnoy’s new fund, which had collected $16.93 million and had 138,798 donors as of Monday morning.
“It’s absolutely amazing to finally have somebody understand and care about what small businesses have gone through in this last year,” said Donna Broad. “It’s been a whole year almost. And it’s about time that we get some recognition.”
As COVID-19 transmissions in La Plata County spiked in fall, the Durango Diner was forced to close Nov. 19, and it remained closed for slightly more than a month before reopening, initially for to-go orders only.
Recently, it has been accepted under the 5-Star Certification Variance Program. It currently can seat 14 people in its 50-seat dining area.
“We were closed for so long, and then with just to-go orders we’re doing about 25%, and you don’t do very well at that rate. You don’t make money if you don’t get enough volume,” she said.
Assistance through the Barstool Fund will be especially helpful for Durango Diner’s employees.
“We’re trying to get everybody hours,” Broad said. “You know, we’re spreading it out. Nobody is here as much as in the summer or a normal year, but we’re trying to get them some help, and with the Barstool Fund, believe me, we’ll be sharing.”
In a video describing the Barstool Fund, Portnoy said he intends to issue monthly checks for businesses selected for funding to cover their expenses.
“Each month we’ll continue to cut you a check to stay in business until this thing is over. What good does it do to help you for two months and go out of business the next month? It doesn’t,” he said in the video.
The only rule for a small business to apply for assistance from the fund is that it is still paying its employees.
Broad, who said she is a fan of Portnoy’s podcast, “The Dave Portnoy Show with Eddie & Co.,” heard about the Barstool Fund in a news report.
About a week after submitting her request for assistance, she heard from Portnoy, informing her the diner had been selected for funding.