Monica Pacheco, center, celebrates her birthday Thursday with her aunt Sandra Gallegos, left, and her mom, Corrine Pacheco, at Santa Fe Capitol Grill. Indoor dining in New Mexico will be prohibited again starting Monday.

Indoor dining is on the outs again.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday closed dine-in options at New Mexico restaurants and breweries for the second time since the COVID-19 crisis began — frustrating leaders and operators in an industry that had just begun to show some life.

“It’s depressing,” said Carol Wight, CEO of New Mexico Restaurant Association. “The governor said this isn’t about restaurants being an unsafe place to go, but this is about punishing the general public by closing down businesses. That’s just unacceptable.”

The governor’s new health order, which takes effect Monday, still allows restaurants to continue patio and outdoor service at 50 percent capacity, as well as the curbside and delivery service that became a lifeline during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Dine-in was first prohibited in New Mexico from March 19 to June 1.

Lujan Grisham said she made the decision reluctantly, but she added it was a move that had to be made in light of a major rise in cases and the inability or unwillingness of state residents to comply with mask requirements and other restrictions.

“Restaurants did not do this to New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said Thursday in a news conference. “New Mexicans did this to restaurants.”

Nevertheless, some restaurant operators said they felt unfairly targeted by the governor, adding they had feared such a decision was in the offing.

“I think that we’re disappointed that the feeling is restaurants are causing an issue — I don’t think that’s the case,” said Katherine Wright, director of the Greater Santa Fe Restaurant Association. “We did send a letter to the Governor’s Office about possibly not punishing us for everything that is happening.”

The effect of such orders is particularly pronounced in Santa Fe, where there are some 400 restaurants. Dining is a $3.2 billion industry in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association’s Wight wrote a letter to the governor Thursday morning in anticipation of a potential shutdown of dine-in options.

“I truly hope the rumors are not true and that you would consult the industry before you made such a sweeping decision,” Wight wrote. “I need you to know that the recovery if you close restaurants now, will not be as robust as it was in June. Restaurants are out of their (federal Paycheck Protection Program) money and therefore would not have the cash to come back from this blow. Already I have heard that six restaurants have closed in anticipation of the rumor.”

Without the ability to bring customers inside, some Santa Fe restaurants will go back to improvising, continuing to use the outdoor spaces. At least for now, outdoor dining has worked, some say.

“For the past few weeks, everyone said it must be patio, patio, patio,” said Jennifer Rios, who owns Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martín with her husband, Martín Rios. “People do not feel comfortable eating indoors. We have not seated one table in the historic building (since reopening May 27).”

Lujan Grisham’s decision was not universally panned. Josh Johns, co-owner of Fire & Hops Gastropub, which reopened July 1, said his restaurant is seeking a permit to allow dining in an outdoor space. It had about half its dining indoors and half on a patio.

“As a conscientious citizen of Santa Fe, it is a right decision,” Johns said about the dine-in restriction. “As a business owner, it’s frustrating. People need to do their part, and they did not do their part.”

Jennifer and Jimmy Day, who own three restaurants in Santa Fe, have yet to reopen any of them, in part because of fears the virus hasn’t been quelled.

“One of the reasons why is we were very concerned for our servers and our people in the kitchen,” Jennifer Day said. “Our constituency is older. We didn’t want to put them at risk.”

(36) comments

Jose Garcia

I say let the people who don’t care about catching the virus let them get it. Whoever wants to work in that environment let them. If someone wants to serve people with might have covid let them.. I say let the people who want to dine in and might get covid let them.. the people who don’t want to dine in won’t anyway.. eventually everyone is gonna get it one way or another.. the cure is around just look up it’s a nebulizer treatment. People die every hour of flu, pneumonia many things. You can’t close everything forever and wear masks that cause CO2 build up in your body forever..

Susan Waller

We are all faced with hard choices. I respect and honor the governor's ability to be able to make them for our collective safety.

Ted Nugent

I say shut all restaurants down

Elizabeth Pettus

I have heard for. Several restauranteurs that the city is having a hard time gearing up to get those who request outdoor serving licenses Their actual licenses. Why not let them use the same application as those who want to rent parking spaces on the street?

Ted Nugent

Name one restaurant owner

Duke Arch

Nobody is being forced to work under any conditions. People are working because they want to work (yes, even Democrats). These shutdowns aren't protecting anyone, other than Democrats chance to hurt the economy and rig an election in November. Don't believe that? Well that's why you'll always be a slave to the Democrat party. Keep crying ya filthy animals! #Trump2020

Jim Klukkert

oh boy, Democrats want nothing more than to hurt the economy and put their grandmothers on the streets!

What a bunch of rubbish Duke, who is feeding you these horse potatoes? Surely you wouldn't make up this fiction yourself!

Donald Apodaca

If your grandmother finds herself homeless, she can be housed at no charge at The Green Tree Inn. Pete's Place is paying for modest rooms for anyone 60 and over. Current funding has been set aside until August.

Maxwell Vertical

This might be the dumbest statement ever made by an elected official.

“Restaurants did not do this to New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said Thursday in a news conference. “New Mexicans did this to restaurants.”

Ted Nugent

Actually I think a very intelligent comment


They are (the dim) going to be pulling out all the stops to cheat however they can. This bogus virus cr@p is just part of their plan. Keep everyone locked down and require mail in voting 😡😡😡 MLG follow the DNC orders

Ted Nugent

Take your meds


Hm. And I'm sure that all of those unregulated protests and property destruction events two weeks ago had nothing to do with the increase in covid cases. Ms. Lujan-Grisham, you're flailing. Why would you think the restaurants are causing this? Or people walking their dogs on sidewalks 20 feet from anyone else? This feels like the captain of the Titanic telling everyone to stay in their state rooms and throw their property overboard to keep us from sinking. It's about as rational.

Ted Nugent

Viva mlg

Elizabeth Garside

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry — and enjoys eating out — I feel for restaurateurs around the state. But Texas and Arizona (and other states) are a scary cautionary tale. We have no vaccine and no good treatment for this disease. Until we do, behavior is the only way to keep each other safe: Stay home if you can, mask up if you can’t, keep your distance.

Lee DiFiore

The governor needs to stop talking down to her constituents like we are petulant children. And stop saying stupid things like "it's not the fault of the restaurants but I'm shutting them down anyway". There is not one shred of evidence that restaurants are causing spread of the virus.


of course growing up all kids strive attention, be it positive or negative attention. Obviously she was always relegated with negative attention which has become her forte which she performs unconsciously in all her daily activities

Ted Nugent

Bob u sound like a 5 year old engaging in an adult debate.

Patrick Bednark

No proof you say? 4 workers here at Applebee’s in Santa Fe who had it were forced to work with the symptoms who knows how many they infected. You don’t pay very much attention or you are choosing to ignore the facts. You must be a Republican.

Lee DiFiore

Did workers at Applebee's catch it at work? Who did they infect? How many? Where are the facts you say are being ignored? Oh, and typical leftist, when you don't have the facts you revert to name calling.

Patrick Bednark

The fact that you ignored that there were infected workers spreading it that is what you are ignoring. You just said there was no shred of evidence I just proved to you there was it was in the paper last week. Typical Trumper getting all upset over facts once again, keep your head buried in the sand. Name-calling? really where is your proof of this? https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/coronavirus/four-workers-infected-at-applebees-restaurant-closes-temporarily/article_df16242a-badd-11ea-a5a1-171f80d19b3c.html

Stefanie Beninato

if you read the story, a woman contracted COVID19. Her husband did not feel well but had no fever so Applebee's required him to work. Eventually he and two other Applebee employees got COVID.

Patrick Bednark

Stefanie Beninato Yup all that time required to work or fired when sick. I could imagine how many he has infected while making food for people.

Ted Nugent

Lee you sound like a 13 year old in a debate

Mike Johnson

This will be the death knell of many restaurants, and this along with her draconian edicts on banning tourists will kill the hotels and tourism industry in general. Such destruction and carnage here, by one person, unilaterally, no checks and balances, no oversight. And she still has not condemned the mass protests and riots that clearly violated her orders and spread the virus and deaths. Hypocrite.

Carolyn DM

Yet, you say nothing of the carnage and destruction Mr. Trump has put on this country. Hypocrisy any, Mr. Johnson, or just ignorant an uninformed?

Mike Johnson

Not at all, Trump is an ignorant fool, cost us many lives, and should have been impeached, as MLG should be now.

Patrick Bednark

The only hypocrites I see are the ones who cry about everything and everyone else and turn around and give the Coronovirus a free pass to spread. Just like what happened here in Santa Fe with Applebee’s when workers who had symptoms were forced to work and then found out 4 of them were infected including 2 cooks but I am sure those facts play no part in your hypocracy let’s just keep on focusing on protesters right?

Grace Perez

As much as I appreciate (and patronize, when possible) our many restaurants in Santa Fe, I am glad the Governor has taken this step. COVID-19 numbers have been going up in the past few weeks. Indoor transmission is a danger not only to patrons but to restaurant staff. We need to be conservative in order to avoid the fate that our Arizona and Texas neighbors are facing. New Mexico simply cannot afford it.

Eugene Ambrose

As someone who works at a restaurant I agree that is a necessary step. I don't feel it was the fault of New Mexicans however. Most of our local patrons continued to order togoes, and the few that joined us for I door seating wore masks. It was the numerous guests from Texas and Florida who often made a big deal about having to wear a mask, and would take it off as soon as you started walking them to a table.

Ted Nugent

'"...Restaurants are out of their (federal Paycheck Protection Program) money and therefore would not have the cash to come back from this blow. Already I have heard that six restaurants have closed in anticipation of the rumor.”' These are probably the same restaurants who serve $17.00 enchilada plates. No sympathy.

Elizabeth Pettus

Why not?

Kathy Fish

Not surprising that this repeat poster has no sympathy for folks who work hard, put themselves at COVID risk (likely because they've got no choice), serve and nourish others, and often do their work without comprehensive benefits, leave time, or job security. As usual, it's just plain ignorance talking. Ultimately, it's worth feeling alarmed about the grossly punitive nature of MLG's stance. Echoes Webber's statement that New Mexicans, not tourists, are responsible for the surge. For shame, MLG - and to those criticizing and undermining those in the food service industry, it's time to check your privilege.

Lee DiFiore

Agree 100%. This poster does not own a restaurant or know anyone out of a job who works in one. Worse, she clearly lacks empathy for them as well.

Patrick Bednark

So protecting people from getting a deadly virus now makes one lack empathy? What delusional world do you live in? Do you know who lacks empathy? All those who come to NewMexico refusing to social distance and wear masks, this is one of the reasons the order was put in place. Also Restaurants are hurting so bad they are ignoring guidlines for protecting people from COVID like Applesbees in Santa Fe who forced workers who were sick to work and then found out to be infected. Funny how everyone becomes resturaunt owner specialists all of a sudden and knows whats bests for the public.

Bonnie Cox


Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.