On Havana Street, home to more than 100 different restaurants and 25 international markets is a notable foodie destination. COVID-19 has impacted nearly every business, sparking changes in the way customers order and enjoy their meals. Some of these technology-forward changes could be around to stay.
We virtually caught up with Executive Director, Chance Horiuchi, to discuss new happenings and how locals can make a difference On Havana Street.
“The Mom and Pop restaurants On Havana Street are working hard to ensure everyone is safe,” explained Horiuchi. “It’s closer to home because it is a family operation – everyone is required to wear a mask, the dining space is at 50% occupancy or less, and some restaurants have outdoor seating.”
To reduce contact, many restaurants and small businesses are now using QR code menus (which can be accessed through the camera on most smartphones) as well as fully online menus, to-go, and delivery options. As Horiuchi mentioned, supporting these small restaurants looks different to everyone. “For some, ordering delivery and takeout once a week is an option. To others, leaving positive reviews on Yelp and Google is the way to go. You can even buy gift cards now that can be used later or engage with your favorite business on social media,” said Horiuchi. “Talk about your favorite restaurant with your friends, that’s one of the best ways to spread the word,” she said. Diners can also grab dessert to-go at one of the many international bakeries On Havana Street, including Honey Bakery inside M Mart, Yum Yum Cake & Pastries, and Solomon’s Grocery & European Deli.
Under state-mandated regulations, small restaurants are beginning to re-open for in-person dining. However, Horiuchi encourages diners to be patient and kind.
“It is important to remember that these restaurants will be opening with less staff, so you can expect longer wait times and different hours. My advice is to always call the business or restaurant before heading over to ensure they’re open. Making reservations is also another good thing – and don’t forget to request outdoor seating if you want to sit outside.”
COVID-19 has encouraged the restaurants On Havana Street to turn to touchless technology – for entry and service. Horiuchi explained Katsu Ramen has a tablet-system at the entrance, which automatically scans a customer’s body for a temperature reading. Others including, Angry Chicken, have a call server button to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions. Horiuchi expects many of these technology-forward changes, such as touchless menus, to last beyond COVID-19. “So many of our businesses and restaurants are innovative, and touchless-tech is just one of the ways they’ve been able to adapt during this time,” she said.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on many local businesses in Colorado and beyond, Horiuchi mentioned opening a new restaurant On Havana Street that has drawn in locals. “Seoul ManDoo is a new Korean restaurant with authentic, jumbo-sized dumplings! It’s also a fast-casual eatery with grab-and-go options; you can expect more Korean street food items soon,” explained Horiuchi.
As diners seek patio options, Horiuchi mentioned Cody’s Café & Bar, Bettola Bistro, Dozens Restaurant, First Watch The Daytime Café, Sam’s No 3, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, Pupusas La Salvadoreña, Molcajete Mexican Restaurant, EL TEQUILEÑO Family Mexican Restaurant, Las Fajitas, and Mariscos El Rey Aurora all have expansive patio dining.
As dining restrictions begin to ease, On Havana Street restaurants and small businesses will once again adapt to ensure everyone can stay safe and healthy.
“Social media is often the best way to stay in touch with your favorite business or restaurant On Havana Street,” explained Horiuchi. “Their #1 priority is keeping customers and their family safe!”