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Two Durango restaurants prepare to reopen

Carver Brewing Co. and College Drive Cafe closed during COVID-19 spikes
Jim Carver, co-owner of Carver Brewing Co., says the popular Durango brewpub will reopen Wednesday featuring smashburgers and four different lagers.

Carver Brewing Co. plans to reopen Wednesday after it closed for a second time during the COVID-19 pandemic on Nov. 20.

Initially, the popular brewpub plans to open only for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 4 to 10 p.m. weekends, but plans are to add lunch as soon as feasible, perhaps as soon as March 11, said co-owner Jim Carver.

“We’re just getting ready for the food to come in. We’ve turned on the refrigeration, and we’ll get our first delivery (Monday),” Carver said.

Carver’s closure before Thanksgiving has allowed it to age beers, and it will offer four different lagers when it reopens.

Jim Carver, co-owner of Carver Brewing Co., says features such as old glass windows and doors are now in place between booths and tables to separate dinners.

In addition, Carver’s is beginning to move to 12-ounce cans for sale of its beers to go, switching from growlers and crawlers, which it has used for 33 years.

A beer-canning machine is expected to arrive in mid-March and 18,000 cans have been purchased, Carver said. Beer in cans should be available toward the end of the month, he said.

The lagers were made possible because of the down time.

“Right after we closed, we had four empty beer tanks. So we brewed four batches. We lagered them,” he said. “So they’ve been sitting there for four months now, which is a rare event for a brewery because normally, you need to keep the beer tanks moving.”

The menu will remain familiar to Carver’s patrons.

One new introduction will be “smashburgers.”

“It’s a really great way to cook a burger,” he said. “You press down aggressively against the hot, flat-top grill. And it gives it a great crunchy texture on the edges and a juicy interior.”

Carver’s expects to have its bump-outs up for the warm weather months on March 15, but it may be a few days before it is ready to seat customers.

Jim Carver, co-owner of Carver Brewing Co., says the brewpub will reopen Wednesday, and later this month the brewpub will begin moving to can its beer for takeout – moving away from growlers and crawlers.
College Drive Cafe

Also, later this month another longtime Durango restaurant, the College Drive Cafe, plans to reopen after going dormant for the pandemic shortly before Christmas.

“We’re looking at maybe the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day,” co-owner Aaron Seitz said.

Hours for the cafe will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., which were introduced during the pandemic. Eventually, the cafe will move back to its traditional hours, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Seitz said.

Like Carver’s, College Drive Cafe had reopened in summer briefly and then closed again after the late fall, early winter spike in COVID-19 transmissions in La Plata County.

The cafe has been closed since Dec. 20.

“Our staff is pretty solid. We we’re good there. It’s just a matter of ordering the food and jumping in,” Seitz said.

Seitz anticipates fewer problems in reopening a restaurant for spring than when it had reopened after the initial COVID-19 closure in June.

“Last summer when we opened up, it was real challenging, because there were still a lot of issues with what you could get, supply issues. That’s a lot different now,” he said.

Carver, too, said unless COVID-19 throws restaurants another curve ball, he foresees the winter hiatus to be the last for the restaurant.

“We’ve been closed for over six months over the last 12. Very close for almost three in the spring. And over three in the fall,” he said. “But we do see this as behind us now. I think we’ve been waiting for the green light to reopen. And I think we have a bright green light with more vaccinations on the way and warm weather coming.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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