Vail Valley businesses working overtime to help each other overcome COVID-19 |

Vail Valley businesses working overtime to help each other overcome COVID-19

You always have time for lunch

We really do care about each other.

Take Alpine Bank’s Grant Murphy, for example. He’s busting out with pride over his staff working 80-plus hour weeks, taking care of customers while cranking out federal assistance applications for local businesses — Paycheck Protection Program packages, Small Business Administration loans and other programs under the CARES Act.

Most of these new federal programs were rolled out in record time — at least record time by Beltway standards — and sometimes as they’re rolling out, rule changes roll with them.

“I am extremely proud of our people, working like that with everything else going on,” Murphy said.

Even good-natured people can get a little cranky under those conditions, so Murphy told his staff that lunch was on him, and that it would be until further notice. That made them smile. Smiles are good. So to spread the smiles and a little of the wealth, Murphy has been calling local restaurants, and from the time he or one of his staffers calls, Alpine Bank buys lunch for that restaurant’s next five or six customers.

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“Maybe they’re bank customers, but maybe they’re not. Maybe they’ll leave some extra money for a tip,” Murphy said.

How Kombucha overcomes

Then there’s Ed Rothbauer, president of Rocky Mountain Cultures, the Gypsum company that manufactures, bottles and distributes High Country Kombucha.

Kombucha is good for you, so Rocky Mountain Cultures employees are staying busy through the COVID crisis.

Although there was this one problem.

Eagle County was pretty much ground zero for Colorado’s COVID pandemic and truck drivers were reluctant to come here to load up their product and deliver it around the country. Naturally, that jeopardized their distribution. Food kept everything rolling.

Rothbauer contacted Ryan Murray and Eagle’s Red Canyon Café. Truck drivers get lunch and a special thank-you card in each box, expressing his gratitude for the truckers continuing to roll.

Rothbauer can attest to kombucha’s healing powers. In the 1990s an accident left him with a broken back. He started brewing his own kombucha tea after a fellow patient at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver told him about it. Rothbauer said he had movement in his legs 30 days later.

Rothbauer and Steve Dickman started High Country Kombucha in 2005 in the home they shared in Avon.

Salvation Army sticking strong

Business at the Salvation Army is up by 500%. It used to provide food for 500 people a month. Now it’s 50 families a day.

The Salvation Army’s staff is also feeding the ambulance crews hundreds of dinners delivered to the Eagle County Paramedic District stations. Many crews are on their way back from trips to Denver.

“The community support for Eagle County Paramedic Services, including the food from Salvation Army that has been turned into crew meals once a week, has been wonderful,” said Chris Montera, CEO of Eagle County Paramedic Services. “Not only does it relieve the burden of cooking and planning a meal for our crews (not to mention a visit to the grocery store), but it also proves that the way to a warm feeling in the heart is through the stomach.”

The Salvation Army buys those dinners from local restaurants — the Main Street Grill, Moe’s Original BBQ and Splendido among them.

“The object is to put some cash in the economy. It helps, but they still need to generate more take-out business,” the Salvation Army’s Dan Smith said.

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