Restaurants build outdoor seating amid second ban on indoor dining

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In the wake of the governor shutting down in-house dining at restaurants again, more outdoor dining areas are popping up on sidewalks and in parking lots.

Mariscos Altamar on the west side is just one of the many restaurants doing whatever they can to survive another ban on indoor dining. Usually they seat about 200 people inside, but with that closed, they built outdoor seating to accommodate about 50 guests.

“If I had to sum it up, it’d be adapt or die, right? You have to change with the times and although it’s not in our original business model to have a patio or a drive-through, it’s also not in our original business model to sell 25% of our sales,” Hector Hernandez, manager of Mariscos Alatamar, said.

He said the patio dining is a large part of what is keeping them seeing sustainable numbers. “On payroll, we have about 55 employees at just our Albuquerque location and when you have that many people depending on you, you know, as a leader of the company I’m going to do everything I can do to keep as many people, of our employees, employed,” he said

While the patio dining helps, for Hernandez, it would be nothing without loyal customers. “Our support has been phenomenal. And we’re just grateful, all our servers, all our cooks, you know…I just want to show that appreciation and love to our community,” Hernandez said.

La Farina Pizzeria on Central also added some outdoor dining. La Salita in the heights also built an outdoor seating area amid the second ban on indoor dining. They are just a few of the 48 eateries the city’s fire marshal’s office said have been approved for additional outdoor seating. As of Friday afternoon, 19 eateries were still pending approval but the office said requests are constantly coming in.

As restaurants do all they can to stay afloat, the state is touting its campaign called NM Safe Promise. It allows businesses to get training on COVID-safe practices and become “NM safe certified.”

“We want to provide the resources and the guidance to help businesses implement these to the highest level of excellence. We also want customers to feel confident that they are safe when they go into these different businesses. And the goal is really to create a better space for all of us by providing education and training,” Jen Paul Schroer, with New Mexico’s Tourism Department, said.

So far, about 265 businesses in the state have completed the training with another 832 businesses registered to get training. A list of NM Safe Certified businesses is on the website. There is no word yet on when the second ban on indoor dining will be lifted.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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