Like most restaurants, WingNutz Bar and Grill is forging a new identity in the face of COVID-19 | PostIndependent.com

Like most restaurants, WingNutz Bar and Grill is forging a new identity in the face of COVID-19

Everyone’s favorite fishing hole in Rifle, WingNutz Bar and Grill, adapts to the shut down as customers continue to support the dining establishment

LEFT: Owner Grady Hazelton takes orders over the phone, as Sam Woolston writes messages on to-go boxes thanking each customer for their loyalty during uncertain times. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)

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Grady Hazelton hustles to his truck to make another delivery Saturday. Deliveries are a first for WingNutz as they navigate the new normal in the food business. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)


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With last week’s order from Gov. Jared Polis to shut down all dine-in restaurants, many local establishments have been sent reeling.  

For WingNutz Bar and Grill owner Grady Hazelton, it has been a kick in the gut, but he knows that everyone is in the same situation.

“We’ve never done delivery before, but now we are doing delivery and take-out. We changed our hours up a little bit so we can operate with less staff,” Hazelton said.

Sam Woolston, one of the 8 full time employees being kept on during the dine-in closure, makes cookies to hand out to customers to show appreciation for their loyalty. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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That is one of the most unfortunate parts about it for Hazelton — with business down 50-60% from normal he had to let all his part-time staff go for the time being.

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“Some people we just had to say we will see you when this all over,” Hazelton said.

“We try to take care of everybody and take care of our group, but there is only so much we can do,”

Running a staff of 8-10 currently, Hazelton is splitting the hours they are open between the regular fulltime employees, which he said is about half of what they are used to.

Hazelton greets a customer picking up an order at the new walk-up window. When Hazelton opened WingNutz nearly 15 years ago he covered up the window. The building was originally home to a drive through fast food restaurant.(Kyle Mills / Post Independent)


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Hazelton opened WingNutz back in 2005, and has had a loyal following for nearly a decade-and-a-half now.

“We’ve had employees and customers that have been here since we opened,” Hazelton said.

With last week’s announcement, Hazelton uncovered the old drive-up window that was used by the previous owners of the building.

“All the sudden it came in handy,’ Hazelton said.

Practicing social distancing Jordan Johnson, and Robert Campbell wait for their food orders Saturday outside WingNutz Bar and Grill in Rifle. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)  


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Hazelton said he had a feeling that this was coming, and had been prepared for the worst by only ordering 25 percent of his usual food orders in case a full shut down comes from the state.

Working with his customers on whatever they feel confortable with, Hazelton has plenty of options for them, whether it is coming inside the restaurant to pick-up their order, walking it out to them, using the window or delivery.

A customer walks into WingNutz to pick-up an order. Hazelton said he is trying to make things convenient to his customers as possible with the new rules of no dining-in. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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“We’ve always taken it serious, making sure we wash and sanitize our hands, now we are just doubling up,” Hazelton said.

“We were going to do what we can as long as they let us, and long as we feel safe.”

Hazelton and Woolston help customers during the lunch hour at WingNutz Bar and Grill. Hazelton said that business is down around 50-60 percent since the state wide closure. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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kmills@postindependent.com


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