Montrose’s plan to help restaurants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic won state accolades recently, a Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence.
The City of Montrose’s Development and Revitalization Team (DART) and the Colorado Yurt Company were selected for their partnered program, “Tipi the Town.” The award was announced during a virtual ceremony on May 27 hosted by Downtown Colorado, Inc.
In the fall of 2020, the Colorado Yurt Company, a Montrose-based manufacturer of yurts, tipis, and tents that are shipped to customers around the globe, teamed up with DART to help local restaurants adapt to COVID restrictions.
With occupancy limits set in place by state health officials, eating and drinking establishments needed creative solutions to provide seating for customers. The tipis allowed diners to sit together in enclosed eating areas that were separate from other patrons and crowds.
“Since 2003, the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence have recognized outstanding projects and people in Colorado that demonstrate creativity in the face of challenges, unlikely and enduring partnerships, and dedication to community to further downtown initiatives,” noted the award announcement.
DART staff reached out to John Gibson, owner and CEO of the Colorado Yurt Company, to see if the company had options using their yurts, tipis, and/or tents. Gibson came up with the idea for “Tipi the Town” using in-stock tipis that were previously used at a music festival.
With music festivals also shuttered in 2020, the tipis were then repurposed to help with the pandemic.
“We were fortunate to have an inventory of painted tipis that were available after use at a prominent music festival,” said Gibson. “They were perfect for this project: a good size for small groups, easy to pitch, and having bold, eye-catching paintings. We were excited to share them with the community and help our fellow Montrose businesses with advertising and alternative seating.
Colorado Yurt provided tipis free to the businesses while the city utilized government-dispersed COVID relief funds to cover expenses for the platforms, installation, and eventual removal. The city hired a local company, Straight Arrow Home Solutions, to build the platforms.
The unique partnership enabled local restaurants that faced indoor dining restrictions of 25 percent capacity to provide outdoor seating for their guests and to continue to operate. Each tipi accommodated up to eight patrons.
In total, 11 tipis and two outdoor enclosures were made available to seven local restaurants.
“Tipi the Town was a creative solution to challenging times. The City of Montrose is grateful for our partnership with Colorado Yurt Company to assist local businesses during the pandemic. We are excited for this award as it exemplifies our commitment to cultivating a business-friendly environment,” said Kendall Cramer, community program manager.
Tipis were pitched at Rio Bravo Mexican Restaurant, Horsefly Brewing, Storm King Distillery, Jimmer’s Barbecue, and Lighthouse Eatery, to name a few.
Two businesses, Storm King Distilling Co. and Rio Bravo Mexican Restaurant, will continue to provide tipis for patron use.
“Colorado Yurt Company congratulates the City of Montrose/DART on winning the People’s Choice award for our Tipi the Town partnership with restaurants,” Gibson said. “We are proud to say our products are Made in Montrose and look forward to future collaborations.
Information from city press release.