Most of Santa Fe’s fine dining restaurants are irrelevant | Local News

It will be a winter of discontent for Santa Fe foodies looking for fine dining.

Many of the city’s upscale restaurants have closed their doors indefinitely, choosing to avoid open-air service or take-out, the only options currently allowed by state public health orders.

The Compound, Geronimo, Santacafé, Coyote Cafe, Sazón, Sassella, Restaurant Martín and Market Steer all closed during the November lockdown and none reopened. Bouche Bistro, Trattoria A Mano and Lucky Goat – all owned by NM Fine Dining, a chain of popular, mostly fancy dining establishments – closed in March and will not reopen until the pandemic is over.

The changes have not gone unnoticed as diners try to adapt.

“We handled the problem pretty well,” said Bruce Legler of Santa Fe, who, along with his wife Anne, visited Restaurant Martín every two weeks. “We do take out twice a week. We do Joseph’s [Culinary Pub] on Saturday then El Mesón. We’re getting out of it.

The Leglers say they also order takeout at Whole Hog Café, Fiesta Oaxaca, and Raaga-Go. They can’t get the fine dining environment they were used to, but take it in stride

“We cook the fine cuisine ourselves,” said Legler, adding that they transferred food from cartons to fine china and brought out stemware for their wine collection. “Except that we have to help ourselves and clean up. “

Without the foodie behemoths of Santa Fe, the outlook for restaurants in the city isn’t much different from other cities. And it’s not just the more expensive restaurants that suffer. Cowgirl BBQ announced in November that it would remain closed for three months. Second Street Brewery posted on Facebook Monday that all three branches were closed until further notice. They closed on the weekend of December 5-6.

Second Street has only dined at its Rufina location since the pandemic began, but taprooms were open at the original location on Second Street and the Railyard.

“Twenty-five percent of the outdoor space is just not enough to work,” said Second Street brewmaster Rod Tweet, president of the company. “That and the COVID cases are not going in the right direction. I think it’s been three months.

Second Street will focus entirely on canning beer for the immediate future, Tweet said.

The National Restaurant Association reports that 17% of restaurants in the country, or more than 110,000, have already closed due to the pandemic and that another “500,000 restaurants of all types of businesses – franchise, chain and independent – are in economic free fall “.

Il Piatto on Marcy Street closed permanently during the first lockdown in the spring, and the space is available for rent. Eloisa at Drury Plaza Hotel, Cafe Sonder and Restaurant L’Olivier have also closed permanently.

The carnage is all too obvious for Jennifer Rios, co-owner of Restaurant Martín. “It will be incredibly difficult for our segment,” said Rios. “Without substantial economic stimulus, many more of them will close. I’m in a restaurant right now looking at a gas bill, electric bill, and sewer bill. How do you pay the bills, the rent and do you have enough capital to reopen? “

It is not difficult to see the reality, especially in the tourist areas of the city center.

Geronimo, one of two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in New Mexico, says on its website: “Due to the current public health order in New Mexico, Geronimo will remain closed until the state reopens. the interior dining rooms of the restaurant. “

Coyote Cafe had the largest street dining room. The barrier gestures remain in place, but the restaurant is closed.

Sazón and Sassella, of which Lawrence Becerra is co-owner, have also closed their doors.

“We’re not going to put people out to eat,” Becerra said.

Even restaurants that had done well in a take-out model decided to close until indoor dining could resume.

The Compound had an “Amazing Thanksgiving Take-Out” and was open for take-out on the following Friday and Saturday, but has since closed, said owner and chef Mark Kiffen.

“We’re not really a take-out restaurant,” he said. “We did it all summer. We’re not going to reopen until Santa Fe turns yellow again. “

As of December 2, counties in New Mexico have been classified into red, yellow, or green levels based on their number of COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests. To reach the yellow level, counties must have eight or less average daily cases per 100,000 population for a period of two weeks or 5 percent or less of positive test results.

Santa Fe, for the two-week period ending Nov. 30, recorded an average of 90.1 cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 15.5%. Santa Fe is expected to lower its average case rate to 12 or fewer cases per day, which last happened on October 19, or to 5% test positivity, which last happened from Oct. 13 to 26, according to statistics from the state health ministry.

At the yellow level, restaurants can have an indoor capacity of 25% and an outdoor capacity of 75%, depending on state health guidelines.

The yellow level is not good enough for Jennifer Rios, who co-owns restaurant Martín with her husband Martin, which closed on November 14 just before the second lockdown.

“We haven’t reopened at all,” Jennifer Rios said. “We don’t plan on doing take out and out. We don’t want to dirty our product. You shouldn’t be sitting outside when it’s 36 degrees. We probably won’t be able to reopen until the weather warms up, possibly around Easter. “

The Martín restaurant will wait until the end of the occupancy limits.

“We will be cautious of reopening until it is something that sticks,” she said. “When we reopen, it’s once.”

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