The New Mexico Environment Department has suspended food-service permits at two restaurants that have refused to obey the governor’s ban on indoor dining, but those restaurants say they will continue to operate “as long as we have guests that want to eat here.”

State officials on Thursday suspended Outlaw Grill’s permits in Hobbs and Eunice.

“These restaurants are operating in violation of state food safety laws and must cease all operations immediately,” the Environment Department said in a statement. “Failing to do so may result in additional enforcement measures. If the restaurants correct the violations, they may request that NMED reinstate their food service permit.”

But Outlaw Grill said it would not comply. “We have received our citation, and we will refuse to close our doors,” it said in a Facebook post. “We will stay open and continue working and serving the public as long as we have guests that want to eat here and staff that want to serve them.”

The battle over indoor restaurant service is being waged in the courtroom. The state Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to overturn the state’s restrictions on dine-in service.

In July, a state district judge in Carlsbad suspended Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ban on indoor dining, but hours later, the high court reinstated the order until it could hear the case.

The state banned indoor dining in mid-March as it tried to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The governor partially lifted the ban in early June by allowing restaurants to resume indoor seating at 50 percent of capacity. But she reinstated the ban in July when the state’s cases began to spike.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association has said some 200 eateries have gone out of business since the start of the pandemic. “You can have 100 people at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Albertsons, you can have 800 people in a peaceful riot, but I can’t have 40 people in my restaurants?” Outlaw Grill said in its Facebook post. “Open up a patio? Who wants to eat in 100 degree weather? I know I don’t.”

Outlaw Grill isn’t the only restaurant to refuse to follow the state’s orders. The Environment Department said it is “pursuing further enforcement” against nine other establishments that continue to serve customers after their food service permits were suspended last month.

Those restaurants include:

u Trinity Hotel and Restaurant in Carlsbad

u Casey’s in Hobbs

u TJ’s Diner in Farmington

u Country Family Restaurant in Farmington

u Los Hermanitos in Farmington (two locations)

u Pizza Inn in Carlsbad (two locations)

u Pizza Inn in Hobbs

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(10) comments

Mike Johnson

Thank you patriots! This form of protest and civil disobedience is as old as our country and welcomed by all freedom loving people.

Mark Stahl

People protest for justice and equality are anarchists and agitators. People protest to make a buck are patriots. We’ve given up on democracy for capitalism. Oh, they’ll have blood on their hands.

Mike Johnson

No, they are only anarchists and agitators if they attack police, riot, loot, commit arson and vandalism, etc. This is a peaceful protest, and I support all peaceful protests, you apparently can't tell the difference, and that speaks volumes about you.

Stefanie Beninato

Yes, heavy outbreak areas--just goes to show what happens to science deniers. Yes, chain the doors closed and shut off city utilities.

Mike Johnson

Perhaps you should look at the scientific data per county. It shows, as of yesterday, that Lea and Eddy Co.s are down 20% and 16%, respectively, in 7 day average new cases compared to last week, while Dona Ana and Santa Fe Co.s were up 6% and 9%, respectively, in the same measure. No, not heavy outbreak areas at all compared to Santa Fe and Dona Ana.

Orlie Romero

Keep em open and eat up! If you can eat outside you can eat inside, shut these dummies up! And if you are someone that believes you can eat outside but not inside than your proving masks don’t matter or social distancing, you do realize the virus is in all air not just at food establishments, same as in your car or house.

Barry Rabkin

Just as long as no-one who eats in the restaurant, any of their families, or any of their friends, goes to a hospital to get care for being infected by the virus: no doctors, no nurses, no ventilators, and no availability of any treatment whatsoever for COVID-19.

No person has the 'freedom' to expose other people to be infected, hospitalized, take up ventilators or other equipment, or take healthcare providers' time and effort to save them. Not one single person has that 'right.'

Barry Rabkin

The State should shut off water, gas, and electricity that these restaurants use. And then put heavy chains and locks on all the doors.

Orlie Romero


Mark Stahl

These restaurants are all located in counties with significant viral outbreaks.

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