El Rancho Has Survived for 80 Years; COVID, Too?

07/31/2020

El Rancho Tavern owner Chip Lile talks about his three businesses and how he’s surviving with yo-yoing open-close orders, possible opening strategies for El Rancho when Governor’s Office allows.

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I'M LAURIE SIGILLITO WITH THE LOCALNEWS NETWORK. AND I'M HERE TODAY AS PART OF OUR ROAD TO RECOVERYSERIES IN DURANGO, COLORADO, WITH CHIP LILE. NOW, CHIP IS THE OWNEROF MANY BUSINESSES. YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW THAT. YOU MIGHT JUST THINKIT'S EL RANCHO TAVERN, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY A FEW MORE. SO CHIP TELL USWHAT YOU'VE BEEN DOING AND GROWING YOUR VENTURES.

WELL, OF COURSE, WE'VE HAD THE ELRANCHO TAVERN FOR OVER 20 YEARS NOW, ABOUT A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO,WE TOOK OVER THE PONG, HIS LOCATION AND REBRANDED IT AND, YOU KNOW,CLEANED IT UP AND REMODELED BATHROOMS. AND ED BROUGHT IN SOME NEWEQUIPMENT AND WE CALL THAT THE GARAGE, BILLIARDS AND MUSIC HALL. ANDTHEN THIS WINTER, WE TOOK OVER ANOTHER LOCATION AT BODO PARK, LOCATEDAT THE DURANGO HARLEY DAVIDSON DEALERSHIP. AND WE REMODELED THERE ANDWE CALL THAT THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY SALOON. WE ACTUALLY HAVE THEBIGGEST PATIO IN TOWN NOW AT THAT LOCATION.

WELL, THAT IS EXCITING. SO THIS IS KINDOF A TOUGH TIME TO HAVE THREE BUSINESSES AND COVID, AND ESPECIALLY INTHE INDUSTRY YOU'RE IN. WHAT HAS THAT MEANT KIND OF TO YOU AND YOURBUSINESSES?

WELL, IT'S BEEN A ROLLER COASTER RIDE, QUITEFRANKLY. YOU KNOW, WHEN, WHEN WE LEARNED OF THE CLOSURES IN COLORADOBACK IN MARCH, OF COURSE IT SEEMS LIKE YEARS AGO NOW, BUT THERE WASNOT A LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT SMALL BUSINESSES WOULD EXPECTDURING THAT TIME PERIOD. AND OF COURSE, SOMETIME AFTER THAT, THE SBACAME ONLINE WITH THEIR PROGRAMS. AND THEN OF COURSE, LOCALORGANIZATIONS RALLIED WITH MANY GRANTS AND ASSISTANCE IN THAT WAY.FOR MY BUSINESSES SPECIFICALLY, BECAUSE THEY WERE BARS, WE HAD SENT,AND WORKING AND LISTENING TO THE AUTHORITIES AND THE COLORADORESTAURANT ASSOCIATION, THAT WE WOULD BE CLOSED DOWN FOR QUITE A LONGTIME. AND SO WE PLANNED INITIALLY FOR A CLOSURE WELL INTO JULY, JUSTKIND OF LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL AND WE DID EVERYTHING WE COULDTO WORK WITH SBA. WE DID EVERYTHING WE COULD TO HELP OUR EMPLOYEESFIND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND REALLY START DOWN THAT PATH OF TRYINGTO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAD BUSINESSES TO COME BACK TO WHENEVER WE COULDCOME BACK TO THEM.

SO YOU'VE, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'VE KIND OF,DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE AND NOW YOU'REBUILDING, OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT'S STILL REALLY AN UNSURE?

NO,I DON'T FEEL LIKE WE'VE MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE TO THIS DAY. THE ELRANCHO HAS REMAINED CLOSED AND ONE OF THE HURDLES FOR US HAS BEEN THECAPACITY RESTRAINTS THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS PUT ON US BECAUSE OF OURFIRE CAPACITY. I WOULD ONLY BE ALLOWED TO HAVE 28 PEOPLE INSIDE THEBUILDING AT ANY GIVEN TIME. AND SO IT'S REALLY HARD TO JUST EVENBREAK EVEN IN THAT SITUATION. SO WHEN YOU DO THE MATH, UNFORTUNATELY,I LOSE LESS MONEY STAYING CLOSED THAN IF I OPENED AT THAT LOCATION ATTHE MILL, AT THE GARAGE, BILLIARDS AND MUSIC HALL, WE HAVE ENOUGHFIRE CAPACITY TO ALLOW THE 50 PEOPLE. AND SO WE WERE ABLE TO OPENTHAT, BUT WOULDN'T, YOU KNOW, ABOUT A WEEK AND A HALF AFTER WE OPENEDTHAT  THE GOVERNOR CLOSED BARS DOWN AGAIN. AND SO FOR THAT LOCATIONTO OPERATE DURING THIS TIME AND NOT BE CLOSED AS A BAR THE GARAGE HASTO HAVE A FOOD OFFERINGS AND NOT JUST POPCORN AND PEANUTS. YOU HAVETO HAVE A MENU AND YOU HAVE TO HAVE FOOD AND YOU HAVE TO OPERATE MORELIKE A RESTAURANT THAN ACTUALLY A BAR OR A TAVERN.

THEMILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY SALOON WAS ALWAYS A RESTAURANT WITH A GREATBIG PATIO. WE HAVE AN ADJACENT PARK THAT WE HAVE ACCESS TO. IT'S APRIVATE PARK OWNED BY HARLEY DAVIDSON AND WE STARTED THE CURBSIDEIMMEDIATELY THERE. IN FACT, THE BUSINESS MODEL HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO DOA ROBUST, TO GO, DELIVERY, TAKEOUT KIND OF SERVICE, PARTICULARLY FORLUNCH OUT ON THE PATIO. SO YOU CAN GO THERE NOW AND WALKED UP TO THEWINDOW, THE DOOR, AND WE HAVE THE PLEXIGLASS OF COURSE ANDEVERYTHING, BUT WE HAVE BEAUTIFUL UMBRELLAS AND TABLES OUT THERESPACED OUT, AND YOU CAN GET FOOD THERE. SO WE USE THE FOOD FROM THATLOCATION TO SUPPLEMENT THE GARAGE, AND I'M WORKING WITH THE CITY TOEVENTUALLY OPEN THE EL RANCHO AND INCREASE ITS CAPACITY BY REMOVINGSOME POOL TABLES AND THINGS LIKE THAT. AND ALSO DOING SOME OF THESIDEWALK SERVICE THAT YOU SEE ON MAIN STREET.

WE WERE NOTABLE TO DO THE SIDEWALK SERVICE ON MAIN STREET BECAUSE WE HAVE A FIREZONE IN FRONT OF US. BUT IT LOOKS LIKE WE'LL BE ABLE TO DO IT ON THESIDEWALK ON THE SIDE. AND SO THAT COULD BE FUN. WE'VE ALWAYS WANTEDTO DO THAT ANYWAY. SO IF THE NUMBERS WORKED OUT ON CAPACITY AND THECITY DOES INDEED ALLOW ME TO DO THAT, I THINK WE CAN OPEN THE ELRANCHO SOON. CAN'T COMMIT TO A DATE, UNFORTUNATELY, AND I'M ON SOCIALMEDIA AND IN PASSING, I GET A LOT OF PEOPLE ASKING ME, YOU KNOW, AM IDOING THIS IN DEFIANCE? OR AM I DOING THIS FOR OTHER REASONS? ANDREALLY IT'S A BUSINESS REASON UNTIL I CAN NOT LOSE MORE MONEY BYOPENING THAN I DO BY BEING CLOSED. IT'S, IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DOFOR THE BUSINESS. WE'VE BEEN HERE FOR OVER 80 YEARS. SO, YOU KNOW, WESURVIVED A FIRE, WE'VE SURVIVED, YOU KNOW, RECESSIONS, SURVIVED WORLDWARS, AND YOU KNOW, MANY ECONOMIC UPS AND DOWNS. SO THEY'LL RATCHET.WE'LL BE FINE. BUT, IT'S, IT'S SCARY AT THE SAME TIME.

WELL,EL RANCHO IS AN ICON. SO I THINK UNTIL IT'S OPEN, WE CAN'T EVEN BEGINTO THINK WE'RE RECOVERING. RIGHT,

RIGHT.

SO I, THISIS IT WE'LL COVER OUR NEXT BUSINESS WITH ROAD TO RECOVERY. AND ITHANK OUR VIEWERS FOR WATCHING US.

ALL RIGHT, THANK YOU VERYMUCH.

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