On Monday, Lucien Reichert and his team of three employees were taking some much-needed rest after their first week running a restaurant.
For five days, they had operated the new Fox Run Café with a skeleton crew, serving takeaway breakfast and lunch items with reasonable success during a city and statewide restaurant shutdown caused by an international pandemic.
“As long as we don’t kill ourselves by doing this … I figured we’d take it day by day for now,” Reichert told The Denver Post. What he meant was, after working long hours with a tight crew, they all needed a break.
“The weight of making decisions right now is getting to me,” he added. “It’s scary, because all three of us working here are highly trained in food safety, and obviously we’re stepping it up and wiping everything down, washing our hands for an extra 20 seconds. But it’s all the unknown stuff.”
Reichert had originally planned to open Fox Run in late January but was set back by permitting and other typical delays. Still, he counted down the days and eventually announced a March 18 grand opening date. And then the effects of the new coronavirus hit home on East Colfax.
“Opening a restaurant is difficult,” Reichert wrote on his business Instagram page last Monday, March 16, the day Denver restaurants were forced to close all dine-in service in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Opening a restaurant in the midst of a global pandemic is … something else.”
After his first few days in business, Reichert was exhausted, but sounded largely positive.
He and two other chefs were preparing food constantly, he said, with little to no time for things like paying invoices or marketing the restaurant. When Reichert walked into the café Friday morning, at the start of the second day of a March snowstorm, the first thing he saw was a puddle of water where the roof had leaked the night before.
“This is my business school, and it’s definitely putting me through the wringer,” he said, laughing in disbelief. “We’ll see how hard we can push ourselves and, if not, I’m not afraid, either, to say, ‘Hey we can’t handle this right now.’ ”
As of now, Reichert is planning to open again starting Wednesday, selling takeout breakfast sandwiches and tacos, toasts, soups and salads, brioche doughnuts, coffee and cream puffs.
“Are we helping more or hurting more? That’s a fear,” he said. “Whatever happens, the success of Fox Run, it is what it is. And hopefully, however many months or years down the road, we can say that our intro to the restaurant industry was a pandemic.”
3550 E. Colfax Ave., 303-537-4584 for orders, Wednesday through Sunday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Menu and more information at foxruncafe.com.