Primus Restaurant will hold a grand reopening Thursday after dealing with a Father’s Day flood that kept it closed for three months – just as other restaurants were emerging from COVID-caused closures.
A factory defect in a sink filter left 3 inches of water in the restaurant, destroying the floors, walls, ceiling, hardwood and a bathroom.
“A dishwasher called Monday morning to let me know what had happened. I thought, it can’t be that bad,” said John Daly, who with his wife, Kerry, co-owns the direct-from-organic-farm-to-table restaurant . “I got here, and I was like, wow. We started pulling off drywall, pulling speakers off the wall. Everything was trashed. The thing about water, it goes wherever it wants to, water and fire, but we’re back and ready to conquer the world.”
Repairs at the restaurant cost $100,000 on top of $300,000 the Dalys originally put into remodeling the old building that dates from the turn of late 19th or early 20th century.
Insurance covered some of the cost but not all expenses to get the doors back open.
“Everything is based on costs in some place like Cincinnati, not Durango. As everyone knows, we live in our own precise nucleus of cost here in Durango, so costs are ongoing,” he said.
Cooking in preparation for Thursday’s reopening resumed Monday, the first time since the Father’s Day flood that the stoves in the kitchen, now with new floors, had been fired up. The flood will have closed the restaurant from June 22 to Sept. 17.
Before originally opening in June 2019, the Dalys had put in two braces to secure the upper floor in the restaurant, which was previously home to Skinny’s Grill and No Way Jose’s. In addition, the couple had poured 20,000 pounds of cement to reinforce a wall.
Daly estimates the building went up between 1880 and 1900. “Classic Durango, no one ever took out a building permit for the original construction, which adds to the cool,” he said.
Besides insurance covering part of the damages from the flood, Primus has benefited from a Paycheck Protection Program loan, offered by the federal government to help small businesses stay afloat amid the restrictions placed on them in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus.
Daly currently has 12 employees. Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced business restrictions, the business was employing 20 people.
Capacity at the small restaurant is 58, which was cut with COVID-19 restrictions. However, the addition of four tables in a bump-out will help with the economics of keeping the restaurant open, Daly said.
The restaurant specializes in seafood and wild game flown in directly, five days a week from organic farms and ranches across the country. A new menu is planned to coincide with Thursday’s reopening.