HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico restaurant owner, nailed for keeping his dining room open, thinks he got some bad advice from New Mexico State Police before the state really brought the hammer down. The owners of the restaurant believed it was their right to stay open and understood there would be consequences.
“Once she came back out with no dine-in allowed again, we said we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing because we’ve been following the same guidelines,” says KT Manis.
It started on Wednesday when Casey’s restaurant in Hobbs got a $100 citation for keeping their dining room open, disobeying the governor’s latest public health order. Manis says they expected that citation.
Later that day, the owners shot cell phone video asking a New Mexico State Police officer if they could still operate with seating in an enclosed area directly outside their business. An officer in the video told them it wouldn’t be an issue.
The following day, they were given a notice from the state’s Environment Department telling them their food permit would be suspended because the public health order states dining has to be outdoors. That left the owners confused and angry.
The Environment Department says they apologize for the misunderstanding and they are making sure State Police officers have a better understanding of the rules. The Environment Department has now suspended food permits for at least eight restaurants, all of them in Hobbs, Carlsbad, and Farmington.