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ABQ businesses feeling the sting from shutdown

La Cumbre Brewing Co. owner Jeff Erway said he had to halt production on $11,000 worth of a new IPA his company was to release today because of the recent government shutdown.

His is just one of the local businesses feeling the effects of the so-far three-week federal government shutdown. Restaurants near government offices say they’re already seeing traffic slump. Other industries say they haven’t been hurt yet but expect they will if the shutdown lasts much longer.

Of all the breweries in Albuquerque, Erway said, La Cumbre probably has been the most impacted by the shutdown.

“It’s because we do ship a lot of our beer out of the state, and we’re probably more active with creating new brands all the time,” Erway said. “That’s where the trouble lies — when you have a new product that needs labeling approval from the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau).”

Since the government shutdown began on Dec. 22, TTB inspectors have been on furlough, leaving local brewers’ label applications in limbo.

On average, Erway said La Cumbre submits eight to 10 label applications a month, depending how many new products the company has ready to ship.

“Every time we have a new beer, we apply for a label for a can, a five gallon keg and a half gallon keg,” he said. “The TTB has done a really good job over the last year or so. I don’t think we’ve any of our label requests take longer than 20 days.”

The bureau regulations require brewers who are shipping products out of state to provide things like brand name, a standard government warning, liquid measurement and other information.

Jothan Michnovicz, director of operations at Bosque Brewing Co., said Bosque also has been affected by the TTB shutdown, though probably not as much as La Cumbre.

Even though the TTB is shut down, Erway said, breweries are still submitting applications.

” If the government was to re-open right now, many breweries would have to wait because of the back log of applications,” he said. “This is extremely detrimental to our business, because so much of our business is based on our creativity and coming up with new brands and flavors.”

He said La Cumbre is looking at a loss of $10,000 to $30,000 a month as the shutdown continues.

Local businesses that rely on clientele from government offices, like Torinos @ Home restaurant, are feeling the effects of the shutdown. Torinos is located near U.S. Forest Service’s Albuquerque Service Center.

“I would say our business went down about 30 to 40 percent since the shutdown,” said Jenna John, co-owner of Torinos @ Home. “It’s affecting the server’s tips because that’s how they make a living.”

John said she usually sees a lot of people from the Forest Service come in at lunch time.

“Most of our consistent business is lunch, and if this continues for say another four months we will have to consider moving to another location,” she said.

New Mexico Food Distributors President Dennis Carpenter said government regulated food inspections have not stopped since the shutdown.

“They are still inspecting here.” Carpenter said. “The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has been out here everyday.”

Carpenter said he knows that the inspectors are not getting paid but they have been working at all of the food distributors citywide to the best of his knowledge.

“The question is, ‘how long is this shutdown going to last and how long are these people really going to work without getting any income?'” he said.