Many town and county governments are offering help to restaurants struggling with the no dine-in mandate.
On July 15, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham shut down indoor seating in restaurants and breweries once again, leaving only patio seating available, according to a press release on the Governor’s website.
“The restaurants really got hit hard because of the in-person dining area issue,” Mountainair Mayor Peter Nieto said. “So, what we did was we got the tents.”
Only one Mountainair restaurant so far had taken up the town’s offer to rent the canopies, Nieto said, but the town bought four just in case other businesses decided they also wanted to rent them.
Once the pandemic is over, the canopies can be used for other events, Nieto said.
“Post COVID, after everything goes away, and we can have mass gatherings and things of that nature, our 4th of July events, all that, these will be used by the town for those events,” he said.
In Moriarty, Mayor Ted Hart said that the city talked to their attorneys to see if there was anything the city could do to help. He said that through grant money, they were able to rent tents for seven restaurants who took the city up on their offer.
“Seven restaurants chose to do it and we’re paying for the first month, 30 days of the rental,” he said. “Then restaurants, if we’re still in the boat after that, then they have a choice of picking it up or giving it back.”
The tents are coming from a rental business in Albuquerque, and the average monthly cost to rent is about $1,200, Hart said.
In Edgewood, Deputy Clerk Carla Salazar said that the town wanted to model their plan to acquire tents after the town of Mountainair, and it is still in development stages.
“We got the funding for it, and we’re looking into, we’re getting some pricing now, and we should have the tents as quickly as I would guess two weeks,” she said.
Salazar said the governing body in Edgewood allocated about $3,500 for the tents, and the tents they are looking to buy are about $400 a piece. She also said the town can’t give them to the restaurants for free because of an anti-donation clause, but they will be charged a nominal fee.
In Bernalillo County, “restaurants, cafes, wineries, and breweries that are permitted to serve food by the Bernalillo County Environmental Health Department, who are located outside the boundaries of the City of Albuquerque, are eligible to apply for an outdoor dining permit(s), and for corresponding grant awards,” according to a news release from the county.
These businesses could apply for grants up to $10,000, according to the news release.
This means places in unincorporated Bernalillo County are eligible for the help.
“The link to the application will be available Tuesday, July 28 at 8 a.m. at bernco.gov and will be accepted until the close of business on Aug. 4 or until applications exceed the total grant funding of $200,000,” the news release said.
Nieto said that besides the purchase of the canopies, there are a couple other ways Mountainair is trying to help struggling restaurants.
“We also did our website, mountainair.live,” he said. “We have a COVID website that launched when COVID hit. It has all the numbers, it has all the links to all the governor’s information, it has local information such as how to pay utility bills, things of that nature. We added a page called ‘restaurants’ that includes their menus, their phone numbers, and their hours that way [people] can go to one specific spot and know who what you can get.”