Blue Ribbon reception brings restaurants and hotels together with legislators

January 10, 2014

Restaurants and hotels in Denver make our economic world go ’round. Consider that together both sectors will generate more than $13 billion in sales this year, which generates more than $850 million in state and local taxes.

Also, restaurants and hotels employ roughly 286,000 employees in 11,500 establishments. A big deal.

So it makes total sense that the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association throw a joint event annually on the first day of the Colorado Legislature to wine and dine lawmakers that could affect the hospitality business.

I have attended this event for more years than I care to reveal, and I would say that the hearty party Wednesday on the 38th floor of the adjoining tower at the Grand Hyatt Hotel attracted more festive folks than I’ve ever seen.

We wined and dined from tasty treats from restaurants including: Angelo’s Taverna, Baca at Inverness Hotel & Resort, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Lala’s Wine Bar & Pizzeria, Mangia Bevi Café, Metropolitan State University Denver, Outback Steakhouse, Penrose Room at the Broadmoor, Ted’s Montana Grill, Texas Roadhouse,  The Airplane Restaurant, The Fort and The Fresh Fish Company.

Pete Meersman, the slowly retiring CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association introduced Sonia Riggs, the new “chief cheese” who is taking over Meersman’s impressive reign. About restaurants, he said, “Restaurants and hotels are the cornerstone of Colorado’s economy.”

Christine O’Donnell, president of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, more pointedly addressed the legislators attending the event. “It takes only a slight change in the laws to turn a profitable hotel or restaurant into an unprofitable business,” she said. “We ask you to keep that in mind during this year’s legislative session.”

And former Wynkoop Brewing Co. founder Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by to speak and be among his “peeps,” as he would say. He referenced deceased The Fort founder Sam Arnold.

“I think about the people who aren’t here,” Hickenlooper said. “Sam Arnold really put Colorado on the map.”


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