ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque social club is at a financial crossroads because of the pandemic and now it may lose the historic building it operates out of. The historic Whittlesey House is currently owned by the Albuquerque Press Club, a private social club geared towards professionals in press and communication roles. But it operates out of the historic building with a bar license.
“So, there is no differentiation between a place that is a bar for profit and that’s what their business model is and us as a private members club which really is not here for the bar aspect but for the members itself. But since our business license classifies us as a bar, we’re lumped into that same aspect,” William Fitzpatrick, Board Director for the Albuquerque Press Club, said. That means under state’s orders, it’s had to stay closed throughout the entire pandemic.
“We’ve been holding on, we’ve been paying the bills, we’ve been keeping the lights on, with literally nobody home,” Fitzpatrick said. But the club is not sure how much longer it can keep that up. Over the pandemic, it’s lost about half its membership. It is now down to 177 members. Between reduced dues and the closed facility, the club is in jeopardy of losing its historic building.
“November is probably going to be the endpoint…if nothing changes,” Fitzpatrick said. It’s a tough pill to swallow for its members who have enjoyed the more than 100-year-old building for so long.
“It’s, I think, devastating for everybody who puts a lot of time and effort into this place. I think everybody’s holding their breath to see where it goes. But unfortunately, we haven’t gotten much direction,” he said.
The club said finding loans it qualifies for is difficult due to its designation as a 501(c)(7). The club said it has asked the state for exemptions but hasn’t gotten a response. Fitzpatrick said even if Bernalillo County moved to green and it’s able to open for outdoor service, he said it would be tough to catch up financially.
“This establishment was never made to have an outside serving area or anything like that. So now our bar staff, who’s usually one person who’s working there at one time bar manager or bartender, they now have to leave the bar, serve people outside, because people aren’t supposed to move around, they can’t come up to the bar,” he said. “So, that causes a huge logistical aspect and that’s also a financial strain because bring on additional staff to be able to facilitate those things.”
Fitzpatrick said the club has been able to stay afloat thanks to the membership dues it still does receive and a few donations made to them during the pandemic.