Restaurants pleased with dine-in business at half capacity

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been a little over a week since restaurants were allowed to start having customers dine in again, at half capacity. The restaurant doors are open, but are customers coming in? “I went to the Route 66 Diner and they did everything so well. Everything was kind of every other table,” Richard Trujillo, who has already dined inside a restaurant said.

“I haven’t yet,” Ashley Glasrud, of Albuquerque, said. “I’m still just not quite comfortable yet being around so many people, even six feet away, that close proximity.” The split opinion is being reflected in what businesses are seeing.

“We didn’t know if we were going to be overwhelmed, you know, and not be able to take care of everybody or if we were just going to be sitting there waiting for customers to come in. And it’s been kind of somewhere in the middle, you know, which is great,” Pat Keene, co-owner of Farina Alto, Farina Pizzeria, and Artichoke Cafe, said.

While customers are coming in, a number of restaurants said they only hit the full 50% capacity on the weekend. Luca Pizzeria said about half of its business Tuesday is still takeout or delivery orders. Keene said they’re also still seeing a lot of takeout while people get more comfortable with dining in.

“It’s kind of a logistical challenge in some ways…doing a lot of take out and doing…the in house dining also,” she said. “But, again, that’s just another one of those things that, in this, you know, world right now, we have to get used to.”

People on and off camera said that they’re waiting to dine-in until the number of COVID-19 cases goes down. “Just watching it continue to decline, of course, I’ll feel more comfortable, but I still think it’s going to be quite a while,” Glasrud said. While excited to have customers in again, Keene hopes a plan is being cooked up to bring restaurants back to full capacity.

“We’re hoping we can get back to doing business as usual, to having customers sit at the bar, to have there be waits, to have it be tough to get reservations, fill a lot of seats, you know? That’s what we want to do again,” she said. “For now, under the circumstances, it’s okay. We don’t know when full capacity is going to happen. We really have no idea. It’s out of our hands. We can sustain this for a while, we can. It’s just, forever…I don’t think it’s good for any restaurant.”

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