Restaurants Continue to Innovate Under COVID-19

Julianna SilvaBlog, COVID-19

local restaurants get creative

Positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the U.S. and, specifically, here in New Mexico. Because of that, many businesses are having to make difficult decisions that balance their employees’ and customers’ health and safety and the viability of their business. The accommodation and food service industry statewide has seen an estimated 16% decrease in gross receipts tax revenue collections in FYQ3 of 2020 (as compared to FYQ3 of 2019), according to the New Mexico Quarterly Economic Summary published by the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department.

At Family Friendly New Mexico, our mission is to support employers that implement family friendly policies in the workplace. We do this by providing resources, tools and recognition so that our community understands and appreciates the businesses and organizations that are supporting their employees and families to thrive. We know it’s really tough for restaurants right now and we want to shine a spotlight on restaurants in our community that are making every effort to adapt to COVID-19 implications and provide a healthy environment for their employees.

When the first of the public health orders were issued in March, 2020, Dion’s (a Platinum level Family Friendly Business awardee) worked diligently to keep their employees on staff while adapting to the first in-door dining closure on March 19, 2020. Their policy, Listen-Care-Act (featured in a recent blog post) was key to the ongoing process to support employees, especially during COVID-19. They ramped up and refined their take-out and drive-through operations to accommodate customers after the 2nd (and most recent) round of in-door dining closure accommodations.

Many restaurants reconfigured their ordering systems or offered walk-up/take-away options to respond to customers’ desire for take-out. Examples include Rude Boy Cookies & The Frontier Restaurant that installed walk-up windows to accommodate contactless order/pick-up.

In May, 2020, patio seating became a viable option and in Albuquerque, the City responded by allowing accommodations to restaurants so that they could add sidewalk seating and the ability to expand outdoor seating into parking lots, where it makes sense to do so.

Oni, a previous pop-up favorite (as Oni Noodles) for Japanese inspired food using local and seasonal ingredients, bravely launched their full-time restaurant during the pandemic. Committed to the safety of their employees and customers, they are successfully serving ramen, dumplings and noodles using a creative online ordering system that allows contactless pick-up from their downtown Albuquerque location.

Facing a new public health order on July 13th to close indoor dining, some local restaurants are undergoing new modifications to accommodate safety precautions while still serving customers. Duran’s, immediately shifted to offer portal seating on July 13th and offer sanitized and socially distanced tables and chairs as well as sanitized menus, in addition to take-out.

Farm and Table, an Albuquerque North Valley restaurant, offered curbside delivery during the month of May while creating additional private picnic areas on the farm for diners to enjoy a COVID-safe dining experience in June. The outdoor dining spaces and take-out continue to be available.

FFNM understands this is a difficult time for all business owners and our local restaurants are especially feeling the effects. By spotlighting our local restaurants, including those that are Family Friendly Business awardees, we encourage everyone to support them during this challenging time. Our local businesses and restaurants are the economic engine of our economy and their commitment to the health and safety of their employees further supports the economic vitality of our community. Visit ABQ maintains a list of restaurants offering Take-Out, Delivery and Drive-Through — check it out and support local!

Julianna from Family Friendly NM

Julianna Silva, COO of Family Friendly NM, is a native New Mexican committed to helping New Mexicans realize economic vitality through her work to support both small business ownership and policies that enable families to thrive. A graduate of the UNM Anderson School of Management, she forged her path in entrepreneurship from her own consulting practice, co-ownership of a family business and by leading key initiatives at WESST. As Chief Operating Officer at Family Friendly New Mexico, Julianna collaborates with the CEO and staff to develop and implement operational infrastructure designed to achieve the FFNM mission to support businesses, their employees and families to thrive.