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Range Cafe lays off 200 workers during shutdown

A Range Cafe in Bernalillo. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s Range Cafe has laid off about 200 employees across six locations the week before Thanksgiving, following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order on Monday to put a pause on indoor dining, among other restrictions to limit COVID-19 infections.

Pre-pandemic, owner Matt DiGregory employed 500 people. Now, he said there are 50 people operating his restaurants, offering only pickup or delivery food services.

“Without having in-room dining there’s just simply no need for wait staff, bussers, hostesses and bartenders. You know, everything that goes along with being open inside,” DiGregory said.

The Range Cafe has been a New Mexican dining experience since 1992, providing patrons with breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch. Menu items include blue corn pancakes, pizzas, enchiladas and a variety of baked goods from “take and bake” biscochitos to bread pudding and cakes.

For DiGregory, COVID-19 is causing the service industry to have a ripple effect.

“We’re not the only ones affected by this – our suppliers are affected by this, their suppliers are affected by this,” DiGregory said. “It’s kind of a snowball situation.”

DiGregory said he wants to see assistance from the federal government to help local businesses like his.

“I don’t think the state’s got much left to come our way,” he said. “They’ve offered a few loans and stuff, but because I have multiple locations I don’t qualify for most of them. So this needs to be on a federal level.”

DiGregory said he hopes the numbers will go down so his restaurants can reopen, but asks people to support local businesses this holiday season.

“I have a not-so-great feeling about us being able to reopen in two weeks, I think it’s gonna take longer to get the numbers down to where they were just a couple months ago,” DiGregory said. “So we’ll figure out a way to survive somehow.”

In September, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions recorded almost 90,000 people as unemployed in the state.

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