Restaurant owners open new locations in spite of pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The past few months have been hard on local restaurant owners who are being forced to operate in a different way. While some have made the hard decision to close their doors for good, others are opening up new locations. The owners of Rusty Taco just opened a second location on Coors, near Montano. They say it was more stressful than they’d anticipated.

“We were scheduled to open at the end of March, right when things were starting to get nice, business picks up. Obviously, it was middle of March when the shut down happened, so we decided to hold off a little bit because we just didn’t know what to expect,” said Justin Hall, the CEO of the Rusty Taco.

Justin Hall and Shannon Curlee, have been planning to open this location for a little over a year. When the pandemic hit they didn’t want to back out of their investment. They opened on Coors near Montano on May 8, expecting dine-in options to be available May 15, but they’ve had to continue operating curbside pickup and to-go only.

They say they’re doing better than expected. Carol Wight the CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association says not all restaurants have been that lucky, and a few have been forced to close their doors.

“They don’t have money to keep going, all of their income stopped on March 16th and they haven’t had any money coming in, maybe some from takeout and delivery, but not necessarily. So even with a little bit, they’re still not making all the payments that they have to make,” said Wight.

Sweet Tomatoes is one of those restaurants that didn’t fare well during the pandemic. The salad bar chain announced in early May they would be closing their doors for good. The governor says the state is on target for partial indoor dining on June 1.

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