ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is the first Friday night since the governor allowed people to dine out again. People said they are ready to get out of the house and support local businesses. Places had pretty big crowds Friday and some even had lines waiting to get a table on the patio. Jess Sanchez is enjoying his first nonvirtual happy hour in months.
“It is pretty much surreal,” Sanchez said. “The minute I heard they opened, I decided for sure to come by and check it out.” It is the first weekend restaurants are reopening patios. “I cannot explain how amazing it is, to be honest with you,” Sanchez said. “It is almost too good to be true.”
Places like Vintage 423 on Paseo were full by 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. “It is very encouraging to see people coming out here, and it seems like everyone is following protocol and there is still some distance between people,” Sanchez said.
Vintage said all employees are wearing masks and sanitizing regularly. The tables are six feet apart, and only six people are allowed at a table. Plus, they are keeping the patio crowds at a maximum of 87 people, which is 50% of their outdoor occupancy.
“We had the fire marshal come through and did an estimate for us so we have the numbers taped up inside,” Jerome Gonzales with Vintage said. “We wanted to make sure we had it, and we actually spaced out our tables ahead of time to make sure we hit that number exactly.
Many breweries who serve food are reopening, too. Starr Brothers Brewing Company said its patio has been full every night since they reopened it Wednesday. “It feels amazing, believe me,” General Manager Derek Minero said. “It has been almost twelve weeks I think, and it’s been boring. We are excited to get going.”
Sanchez said he is excited for more happy hours to come. “Safety is the top priority, but I am very excited for more things to open up and more things to be happening,” Sanchez said.
Indoor dining reopens at 50% occupancy Monday, but Vintage 423 said it is holding off until Wednesday to make sure everything is ready inside. Breweries and wineries are also now allowed to do curbside pickup.