ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –Breweries in Bernalillo County have been open at limited capacity for months and can now start welcoming even more customers under the Green tier for reopening. However, a recent survey reveals that many of them aren’t able to just yet.
“Anytime we can increase the number of people that we’re able to serve in an evening is always a good thing for business,” said Maria Socha, owner of the Casa Vieja Brewery in Corrales. Now that Bernalillo County has moved into the Green tier in the state’s Red-to-Green framework, breweries can now bump up their indoor capacity from 33%to 50. “So we’re grateful, the more business we can have, the better,” said Socha.
But other breweries said they’ll be holding off on bringing in more customers right now. “Breweries are in the same boat as every small business right now,” said New Mexico Dark Side Brew Crew writer, Chris Jackson. The New Mexico Dark Side Brew Crew is an online writing collective that covers the state’s brewery scene. They asked local breweries if they’re ready for more flexibility in the service hours and occupancy that the ‘Green’ tier allows. The results show that not every brewery is ready for the change, mostly because they don’t have enough staff.
“Every brewery is happy we’re on Green but it’s not something they can instantly flip a switch and boom five more servers appear to get you your beers in a timely manner,” said Jackson. “It’s just kind of an issue depending on how of a brewery you are. A brewery like Gravity Bound that is smaller can probably get by with the staffing they have now, whereas a larger brewery like Steel Bender or Marble will have a harder time necessarily going straight to it giving people the service they expect.”
Many businesses, including restaurants, are having a hard time filling vacancies. The Brew Crew said it could be because some people are still waiting to get vaccinated before they head back to work, but for places like Casa Vieja: “We’re in a really good place in terms of being able to expand a little bit and be able to serve more people on any given night just because we do have that core staff that has hung in there with us through thick and thin so we’re really grateful for that.”
Moving into the Green tier also means that breweries and other food and drink establishments no longer have a 10 p.m. closing time. Patio seating at breweries remains at 75% in the Green tier.