NM restaurants welcome patio rule change

The patio at Church Street Cafe in Old Town was open for business Wednesday. Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal

It’s not business as usual but it’s a start for many Albuquerque restaurants and some breweries.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration amended a public health order allowing restaurants and venues that made more than half their revenue from food sales last year to reopen outdoor patio areas at 50% capacity with no more than six people per table starting Wednesday.

O’Niell’s locations in Nob Hill and the Heights were prepared and opened patios Wednesday for food, beer, wine and cocktail service.

“I’m not a huge fan of surprises but this was a good one because we have been just waiting and all the staff knew that in a moment’s notice this could happen and luckily because of how we planned we will be able to hit the ground running,” said Jeff Trent, O’Niell’s operations manager.

Church Street Cafe in Old Town welcomed guests to the patio Wednesday.

“We’re probably going to do it in a way of counter service for now, where we run the food out to you and you just order at the counter and we’ll give you a number and you go out and sit wherever you like,” said owner Marie Coleman. “Everything will be clean, sanitized and ready to go. It’s just been a hard few months here so I am definitely ready.”

Some restaurants needed a little more time to reopen their patios to the public.

MÁS Tapas y Vino located inside Hotel Andaluz decided to open its patio today, Thursday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will utilize the Ibiza patio starting at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday to accommodate more people while observing social distancing protocols.

“It’s very exciting,” said Phil Snyder, general manager at Hotel Andaluz. “I’m happy to see the restaurant industry opening up and take a step forward which is great. … We’re going to be able to provide an experience for the guests that they were used to from us.”

Quarter Celtic Brew Pub will offer a full menu to include its popular fish and chips as well as 12 of its craft beers. Its original location on San Mateo will open its expansive patio on Friday while its Heights location will wait for the green light for dine-in service.

“We’re looking forward to seeing some friendly faces again,” said co-owner Ror McKeown. “We’re not sure how many people are going to brave it right away but we’ll be ready in case they do.”

Southern and soul food lovers will soon be able to dine on the patio at Nexus Brewery & Restaurant possibly as early as Friday, May 29.

“We’ll get our umbrellas out,” said Nexus owner Ken Carson. “We’ll start serving people. People will be able to have beer and food together. It’s all good. I’m really positive toward it. Now it’s becoming normal to be surprised on a daily basis.”

The turnaround was a little too soon for some restaurants. Farina Pizzeria Downtown and its counterpart Farina Alto Pizzeria & Wine Bar will wait for when dine-in service is allowed.

“We have to get the restaurants set up and order some product for front of the house and make sure all the tables are squared away being six feet apart,” owner Terry Keene said. “We’ll open the restaurants and the patios at the same time. The patio won’t be open because the notice was too soon and we have a bunch of work to get it ready to go on June 1.”

Garduños is also holding off on opening its locations near Cottonwood Mall and Winrock Town Center. The goal is to reopen the west side location on June 9 at a limited capacity. The larger Winrock location is currently on hold.

“It was kind of out of nowhere,” Chris Wood, general manager of Garduños at Winrock, said of the amended health order. “It’s a good step in the right direction I think. I think it was a good restriction to lift being outdoors. It is not nearly as dangerous in my opinion so I think we’re moving in a great direction.”

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