New Mexico restaurants continue to face problems in COVID-19 aftermath

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Local restaurants in New Mexico were directly impacted by the pandemic, and they are still facing a lot of problems in the aftermath of COVID-19 coupled with inflation.

In a recent statewide industry survey from the New Mexico Restaurant Association:

  • 80% of restaurants increased their menu prices
  • 49% reduced their hours of operation

Restaurants across the country and in the metro all dealt with these issues in some form.

“We’ve kind of experienced higher prices, especially with our shipments,” said Cailan Nixon, manager of Java Joes. 

Not only have local restaurants struggled with changing their hours and menus, but keeping these businesses fully staffed has been a major a problem too.

“As far as getting people to come back to work, has been hard,” said Marie Coleman, owner of Church Street Cafe. 

According to a NMRA survey, 23% of restaurants in the state made cuts to their staff.

Coleman’s business has been directly effected in more ways than just staffing issues.

“We’ve had to close one day a week. A lot of restaurants are either closed one or two days a week. We had to cut our hours, a lot of restaurants did that too. Food is getting outrageous, I’m sure you’ve seen the cost of eggs at the grocery store,” said Coleman. 

Some longstanding restaurants like Java Joes have a loyal flow of customers, so no matter the circumstances, they say they try to serve the public in the best way they can.

“Especially our owner here, he tries his best to just keep everything as best as you can,” said Nixon. “I love working with the community and trying to think about the people instead money or whatever else.”

600 restaurants in New Mexico received help from the Federal Restaurant Revitalization fund, a fund that nationally helped restaurants keep their doors open due to the troubles from the pandemic. But those who didn’t receive that extra cash still need help. 

“Not all the restaurants here in New Mexico received that fund, and we’re still struggling getting people to work, getting people back to work,” said Coleman. 

Now, owners are just playing the waiting game.

“I’m just hoping that maybe things will start to level out,” Coleman said. 

The New Mexico Restaurant Association is pushing for Senate Bill 121 in the Roundhouse saying it would help them out. It’s a proposal that would mean restaurants would not have to pay that tax for food or drinks they serve. That bill is in committee.

Track SB 121 during the legislative session.