ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is the closest to normal our state has been since the pandemic began. Thirty of the state’s 33 counties are at the Turquoise level of the state’s reopening framework. Two are green, and only one is yellow. The good reopening news Wednesday, and the fact that it’s Cinco de Mayo, meant big business for local restaurants who are thankful the restrictions are easing up. “It is amazing,” Luna Blue, who was enjoying dinner in Albuquerque Wednesday, said.
People filled places like Los Conejos on Wednesday drinking, eating, and snapping pictures with friends. In Nob Hill, patios were packed and places like Sister Bar downtown had lines out the door. “People are happy to have somewhere to go and enjoy the weather,” Johnny Donofori, who was enjoying dinner in Albuquerque, said.
Los Conejos General Manager Giovanni Martinez said they’ve seen a huge uptick in business as Bernalillo County has continued to progress under the reopening framework. “We are at it, and we have a reservation system now,” Martinez said. “We didn’t need one before, but now we are so busy, and everyone is dying to go out. It is just the best way to do it so we know how to staff and serve everyone.”
One of the biggest changes in the Turquoise Level is that now, bars can operate at 75% capacity outdoors and open for the first time indoors with 33% capacity. However, many remain shuttered. “We don’t want to reopen and run in the Red,” Carrie Phyllis said.
Phyllis owns both Salt Yard locations and Effex Nightclub. She said it will take time and money to reopen. Phyllis estimates it will cost six figures for each of her locations to get back up and running. She said the majority of local bars she has talked to are in similar boats. “It’s that wondering, what the rules are. Is there still six-foot social distancing? Which there is. Can you sit at the bar top? No, you can’t. Those things, plus, is it possible for us to go backwards and could we end up in back in Yellow? There are a lot of things to consider,” Phyllis said.
While navigating the pandemic is a challenge for all, people said they are happy things are feeling more normal. “It is very hopeful,” Blue said. “The fact that it is getting warmer and things are opening up, there is so much to look forward to.”
Los Conejos said the most meaningful change for them under Turquoise is being able to extend their hours. They now plan to be open until 11 ppm. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends. Phyllis said she plans to open Salt Yard West in the next few weeks. She is holding off on reopening the east location for now.