ALBUQUERQUE: It’s a huge number. 687 New Mexico restaurants have closed and at least 355 of those are gone permanently according to Yelp, a restaurant review website. Yelp has done research and released reports on establishments that were impacted by “non-essential” business closures between March and early July of 2020. The results nation-wide are awful, but in New Mexico, with a rural population that is more likely to be serviced and fed by locally owned restaurants, the results are particularly grim. According to KOB the numbers released include 199 restaurants permanently closing in Albuquerque and 44 permanently closed in Santa Fe.
Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs thanks to the closures and many of those jobs won’t be coming back. With the extended $600 weekly stipend gone (hey, if I had been unemployed and received that it would more than double what I make), many who had originally thought unemployment looked attractive are seeing how terrifying it can be to have their income slashed and job stability gone…and there’s no improvement in sight.
A letter in the Albuquerque Journal this week pointed out the hypocrisy New Mexicans see in the specific targeting, seemingly exclusively, of restaurants by Governor Michelle Grisham.
Second, restaurant employees make up about 11% of the NM workforce (according to the National Restaurant Association), so the fact that 15% of the inspections by Rapid Response teams are to restaurants is not surprising. Then I note that about half of the restaurants’ Rapid Responses so far are to fast food places (mostly national chains), not comparable at all to traditional dine-in restaurants. Of the other half, about half of those are national chains. So our local, traditional restaurants are doing pretty good. But, once again, the governor disfavors local businesses, shutting down their indoor dining while the data she cites (the Rapid Responses) indicates national companies are mostly the problem.
— Sam Haas
Albuquerque Journal, Letter to the Editor
The Independent Restaurant Association has explained some of the awful impact restaurant closures will mean in an ad calling for congress to act and financially relieve restaurants (we can’t endorse the bill as we haven’t researched it, but the primary content is still good!). Sadly, a disproportionate number of minorities and single parents are impacted by restaurant closures. According to the ad, 25% of workers who lost their jobs due to Covid19 have been restaurant workers. I can imagine the statistics are very similar in New Mexico.