No home for the holidays

Restaurants open on Christmas for pipeliners

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Tom Mathers, owner of Mathers' Bar, said he enjoyed spending the past nine Christ--mas holidays with his family, away from his business.

But with about 1,000 pipeline workers in the area this Christmas, many of whom don't have anywhere to spend the holidays, Mathers has decided to open his bar on Christmas Day and offer free dinner.

"I was in the oilfields, and I know exactly what it's like to be somewhere on Christmas Day and have no place to go," he said.

The bar is one of a few local establishments staying open on the holiday for pipeline workers.

Mathers' stayed open Christ--mas Day until nine years ago, when he decided to give the staff the day off.

"It was nice to have Christmas off," Mathers said.

But this year, the staff will work, and the bar will be open to the public, not just pipeline workers.

Mathers said he isn't sure how many people to expect this year. But in the past, more than 200 people would celebrate Christmas at his establishment, 420 Yampa Ave.

The free dinner begins at 2 p.m., and anyone who wants to bring a covered dish is welcome to do so, Mathers said.

The Galaxy restaurant, 524 Yampa Ave., also will be open Christmas Day.

Owner John La said the restaurant, which serves Chinese food, usually closes on the holiday. But because Christmas is on a Sunday this year, he decided to keep the kitchen and buffet open.

Pipeline companies usually try to give workers enough time off around Christmas, said Roger Hearn, a timekeeper with Gregory and Cook Construction.

Gregory and Cook is building one of the two pipelines that will run from Rio Blanco County to Wyoming, right through Moffat County.

But this year, because the pipeline companies didn't get federal approval to begin construction when they had planned, the projects are behind schedule.

Because of the delay, many workers are getting only two days off for the holidays, Hearn said.

Usually, workers get three to six days off for Christmas, he said.

Many workers, including Hearn, who is from California, live in other states.

The distance makes it tough to go home and make it back in time for work, he said.

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