FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – Some local businesses said they are anxious for the new liquor laws to go into effect this summer, hoping they will help revitalize downtown areas. Farmington businesses said they hope these new laws will put them on a more level playing field with nearby tourist spots like Durango and bring more activity downtown.
Boons Family Thai BBQ has been a Farmington staple for more than a decade. “The downtown area, we have kind of been an anchor restaurant for the last 15 years,” owner Morey Havens said.
For those 15 years, Havens said they’ve never been able to serve hard liquor. “We didn’t think it would ever be an option,” Havens said.
That is because the restaurant could never afford a liquor license. Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto told News 13 that under current laws, people are buying and selling a limited number of liquor licenses for $500,000 or more. That is about to change in July when House Bill 255 goes into effect. Ivey-Soto said the bill will allow restaurants to get new licenses directly from the state for $10,000. “It is really going to be a game changer in my mind,” Farmington mayor Nate Duckett said.
Duckett said now that liquor licenses will be more affordable, they city can better compete with places like Durango with more relaxed liquor laws just 40 minutes away. “Durango has got a fantastic nightlife, restaurant offerings and the majority of all those places offer adult beverages,” Duckett said. “It makes it hard to compete in the tourist area.”
Right now, just one place in downtown Farmington can serve spirits. Duckett said it is a distillery. Duckett said it is also making the city miss out on young professionals. “We continually hear back from people between the ages of 25 and 35 with young families or recruiting police officers out of California about us not having a nightlife,” Duckett said. “Part of that is driven by the fact that no one can afford to have a liquor license.”
Duckett said he hopes the new laws will spur more growth in the downtown area. Right now, just two restaurants there can serve beer and wine, Boons being one of them. Havens said he looks forward to being able to serve hard liquor. “After being in business this long, this kind of opens up a new avenue of revenue for us,” Havens said.
Havens said not only do they compete with Durango but also large chains in the community that he said typically have licenses. There are many businesses that said they are not happy with the new law because they spent a lot of money buying a liquor license and now worry it will lose its value.