Get your business listed on the Best Local Business Listing Network on the web!  

The Sunset Inn in Pueblo Was a Thriving Family Business. Then There Was the Pandemic

The Sunset Inn Bar and Grill in Pueblo, Colorado, was a flourishing, cherished family-owned business for over four decades, known for its rendition of sloppers (a local delicacy), its philanthropy to the community, and its warm atmosphere, where everyone was treated like family.

It’s now one of the numerous small enterprises battling to stay alive as a result of Covid-19.

Sales are a quarter of what they were before the March closure, which was imposed by the government. Owners Gerda and Chuck Chavez reopened in June but had to close again after contracting Covid-19, as did other family members. As the number of coronavirus cases rises, eating out is no longer an option in the county, and business at the Sunset has dwindled to a stream of take-out orders.

Gerda told CNN that her greatest worry is losing all the family has worked hard for since arriving in the country with only three suitcases decades ago.

“Losing everything we (made) all these years, having to worry that someone else will have it once we go away and we are no longer here,” Gerda cried.

Sunset’s loss would mean losing everything, according to her daughter Cassy Gibbons.

“To me, the Sunset represents my entire family, our entire life,” she choked out.

When it won Travel Network’s “Food Wars” battle featuring sloppers — cheeseburgers doused in chili — against its crosstown competitor, Don Gray’s Coors Tavern, ten years ago, the cafe achieved national recognition.

“We have a reputation for sloppers,” Gerda said. She claimed the crowds were sometimes so enormous that they had a security officer stationed at the door to let people in as other customers departed.

Covid-19 hit close to the home shortly after reopening in June: 11 family members, including Gerda and Chuck, contracted the sickness. All of them healed, but the company continued to struggle.

For a time, a government small-business subsidy helped, but the Chavezes have had to lay off the majority of their 22 employees, according to Gerda.

Gerda is now a mother “I can’t sleep at night. My hair is starting to turn gray. I’m continually concerned about whether we’ll be able to pay our payments next week, next month, or even next year “she stated, “It isn’t just me; it is my entire family.”

Even yet, Gerda continues to do what she has done every Christmas season for over 30 years: she and her family earned enough money through an auction — this year online — to buy at least three items for each of 180 children in need.

When the most recent closure was announced, Gibbons said her mother’s main concern was for her children.

“The first thing my mother said was, ‘We need to hurry,'” Gibbons added, referring to the urgency to complete all of the children’s shopping.

“During our worst moments, when we’re wondering what will happen to our entire lives that they’ve built,” Gibbons said, “she’s worried about making sure that these underprivileged kids in our neighborhood enjoy a Christmas.”

Gerda believes the children have already suffered enough during the epidemic. “And most of these kids aren’t going to have anything if I don’t do Christmas for them.”

The members of the Chavez family could use a Christmas miracle themselves.

“It’s terrifying not knowing what may happen,” Gibbons remarked. “It’s not that they are incapable of running a business. It’s something they’ve been doing for 40 years. However, it is due to the epidemic. And it’s something we have no control over.”