Dozens of supporters of the New Old Trail Garage on Old Santa Fe Trail gathered downtown Thursday to rally for owners Joe “Ranger” Lujan and Joe Martinez, who are facing higher rent payments beginning in January that they say could force them to close.
Lujan has been working on vehicles at the site, just across the road from the state Capitol, for almost 40 years. When the property owner, William Parker, decided to close the garage in 2010 with plans to sell it, Lujan stepped in and reopened the business under a lease from Parker.
Now, Parker plans to raise the garage’s monthly rent from $2,500 to $3,500, an amount Lujan says he can’t afford.
He has said he hopes to reach a deal with Parker to keep the shop in business.
Supporters of the neighborhood garage ran advertisements in The New Mexican announcing Thursday’s rally to show support for Lujan and Martinez.
“Ranger and Joe provide wonderful service and important car care,” the group said in their ads this week, asking others to gather with them.
“Bring your signs and we’ll bring the food,” the ads said.
About 80 people answered the call.