The COVID-19 pandemic put a nearly unprecedented amount of financial strain on businesses nationwide, causing some owners to close their business' doors forever.
However, in Cedaredge, despite community rumors, RJ’s Steakhouse is not in that situation, according to Josh Patterson, the restaurant’s owner.
Patterson, who owns several businesses around the Surface Creek area and is the man behind the Altitude Outdoor Adventures development in the Alexander Lake Lodge area of Grand Mesa, said that RJ’s ultimately closed around the start of the pandemic mainly due to a lack of a chef that fit the restaurant’s needs.
“What we’re currently doing is looking for the right people to bring it back open,” Patterson said. “We felt like we had a decent crew, but I really struggled to find a decent chef that I was willing to bring on board and really complete the business, the location. I think what we’re looking at is probably still a few months.”
In those few months that Patterson estimates, he assumes some detrimental direction will come out regarding regulations. After election day, he’ll make sure they can efficiently reopen through whatever restrictions are in place.
Following the closure of RJ’s in the spring, the community saw the location go up for sale. To this fact, Patterson said he was evaluating the market. In fact, that idea came up before COVID-19 ever did.
“We started fishing around about that about a year ago,” Patterson said, “and there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, I like to keep things on the market and above-head. If there’s ever a great return or an offer I can’t refuse, I’d like to see it.”
Patterson said he is not in need of selling the business and that he is actively planning to reopen it in the coming months.
Between COVID-19 restrictions and the climaxing Altitude Outdoor Adventures project, RJ’s did get put on hold, and Patterson said he did explain the situation to all the employees of RJ’s Steakhouse.
“When we laid the employees off, we gave them a large bonus and told them that we’re going to wait this thing out,” Patterson said. “[That] we’re not going to make a premature decision and put other people in the business at risk. My opinion is, when you can’t really predict what the government is going to do with restrictions, it’s really difficult to put turmoil in people’s lives.”
In the meantime, as they “wait this thing out,” Altitude Outdoor Adventures has seen state approval of drinking water and wastewater upgrades, as well as completed designs of the second batch of cabins.
“We’re hoping to be in a position where the first set of cabins and the lodge actually open in May or June of next year,” Patterson said, though that will of course be reliant on proper weather, and on Grand Mesa. That means those goals are not overly solid.