Milk Market and a bunch of other restaurants and bars under the Bonanno Concepts banner want you to be vaccinated before dining

They won’t verify your status but will ask you to sign something.
2 min. read
A sandwich on the line at Ruth’s Butchery inside the Milk Market at the Dairy Block downtown, May 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

If you're going to a restaurant owned by Bonanno Concepts, they might ask you to sign a declaration saying that you've been vaccinated against Covid-19.

"In the last few weeks with the uptick in cases, the amount of breakthrough cases, and then also the information coming from the (Centers for Disease Control), it just seemed time for them to make a big move," Jessica Kinney, director of "people and culture" for the company, said about owners Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno on Colorado Matters.

The local restaurant group, which owns 10 spots in the city, including the Milk Market's 16 restaurants, is the first restaurant group in Denver to require vaccinations for customers -- and employees -- as far as we know.

But "require" might be too strong a word. The company's employees will not verify vaccinations by, say, asking to see your vaccination card. Instead, they'll ask you to sign something that declares you've received the shot. And Bonanno's fast-casual restaurants at the Milk Market food hall won't ask at all; Kinney said they'll rely on signs about the company's vaccine preferences.

By contrast, New York restauranteurs are taking a no-shot-no-service tact after the city government required it. Even a few other Denver restaurants are asking to see vaccine records.

Kinney said the strategy is the right move for the company's workers and for Denver.

"We just want the safest environment possible," Kinney said. "And we can vaccinate our staff, but if we have a lot of unvaccinated guests coming in, then it's not going to be as effective. We also think that it's important to be doing our part from a community standpoint."

About 85 percent of Bonanno's 372 employees were vaccinated when the company created the policy, Kinney said, adding that 20 percent of unvaccinated staff asked for the vaccines, which the company provides, after the announcement.

In addition to the Milk Market restaurants, Bonanno owns Vesper Lounge, Luca, Mizuno, Osteria Marco, Green Russel, Russel's Smokehouse, Salt & Grinder, French 75 and Lou's Food Bar.

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