ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday will be the first time in months you can eat at a restaurant, but you will have to dine outdoors. Restaurants say the announcement came as a surprise and places with patios are excited to finally begin reopening. Places like Flying Star Cafe are thrilled.

“We are definitely pretty excited,” service manager Ryter Griego said. “People have been asking us for a while if they can come sit on the patio.”

Tuesday afternoon, they learned the governor gave restaurants the okay to open patio seating effective May 27. “It was a surprise but a good surprise,” Griego said. “We have been getting ready since the beginning to reopen.” Under the revised public health order, restaurants can start serving people at outdoor tables at up to 50% of their outdoor occupancy rate.

Tables must be spaced at least six feet apart and no more than six people can be at a table at a time. “For our patio, we are looking at 20 guests on the patio,” Griego said. “We will have someone counting people at the door. After sales dropped 85% during the pandemic, Griego said they are ready to welcome people back.

“I think it will help us a lot,” Griego said. “I think we will see a pretty big spike in people just wanting to come in and sit down being we are one of the few restaurants that does have a patio.”

Restaurants that don’t have outdoor seating, like Azuma Sushi near Paseo and Wyoming, are out of luck. “There is not so much we can do,” Mitchell Griggs of Azuma Sushi said. “We just have to wait and do the best we can do in the meantime.”

While Griggs said it is a bummer they can’t reopen Wednesday, he said they were not expecting to open until Monday anyway when the governor previously said restaurants would likely be allowed to reopen. “We are doing what we can with to-go orders and deliveries,” Griggs said.

Everyone said they are ready for Monday, the governor’s target date for people to be allowed to dine back inside. “We are just excited to be finally getting back to some kind of normalcy,” Griego said.

Bars are still closed under this revised order, but the governor said bars are also on target to reopen Monday under limited capacity. The governor’s office said this will not apply to Cibola, McKinley and San Juan Counties due to high risk of spread there. The New Mexico Restaurant Association is also asking restaurants in Dona Ana County to consider not participating in this soft reopening since transmission rates in that area are still high.