With another round of restrictions on restaurants and breweries, Rio Rancho business owners get creative.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reinstated a ban on indoor dining at restaurants and indoor seating at breweries that took effect on Monday.

Karen Johnson-Bey

“I feel for all the businesses, especially the ones affected business-wise with no dine-in,” said K’Lynn’s Southern & Cajun Fusion owner Karen Johnson-Bey.

The restaurant, at 4300 Ridgecrest Drive, Suite O, does not have an outdoor dining space, so it has been reduced to takeout only.

Johnson-Bey is having a special mini to-go breakfast menu Saturday from 8-10 a.m., serving fresh beignets, which are deep-fried pastries, chicory coffee and other items.

She hopes the special menu will pull sales up, she said.

“It is hard to accept when big-box businesses are thriving and stay packed with long lines regardless of the 6-feet guideline, keeping the correct capacity and mask policy,” Johnson-Bey said.

She adheres to COVID-safe practices set by the New Mexico Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.

“We have been blessed to still keep our head above water with carry-out only. However, I hope the mom-and-pop stores that have not closed in the first round make it this second round, us included,” Johnson-Bey said. “Along with world events, it is a very scary and stressful time for all.”

Scott Salvas owns Brew Lab 101 Beer & Cider Co. and has tried to stay positive throughout each shutdown.

Brew Lab 101 Beer & Cider Co. has added patio space in the back of the building at 3301 Southern Blvd. to increase outdoor seating. Courtesy photo.

“We have been fortunate through most of this. During the takeout days, we were doing about 60-70 percent of normal,” he said.

Sales were up at Brew Lab 101 the first two weeks after the governor opened indoor dining, Salvas said.

This past week, his sales were up and down, with Monday meeting 75 percent of normal business, Tuesday being over normal business due to hosting an event, and Wednesday meeting average sales, he said.

Through the pandemic, Salvas has received the Paycheck Protection Program loan, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and a grant, he said. In addition, he has gotten by without doing layoffs or furloughs.

Salvas has been able to reduce revenue losses with large patio spaces, a loyal customer base and changing his business model to operate on a leaner budget.

Brew Lab 101, at 3301 Southern Blvd., has about 3,000 square feet of patio now. Salvas took advantage of the temporary outdoor seating permit allowed when the pandemic hit and added extra patio space in the back of Brew Lab 101.

He said it took about a week for the permit to be approved by the state and city, and it only took that long because he sells alcohol.

“The back area was only meant to be for overflow on busy nights, but all of a sudden, we only have a patio, and now we have to make that back area great and our primary area,” he said.

Depending on landlords and other business situations, outdoor space isn’t always possible, and Salvas finds himself fortunate to have any, he said.

He invested in a tent for the back area to help protect tables from sun and rain. He said he had to either buy a tent or face losing half his revenues when it rains.

“And those are the kind of conversations you have to have. And everyone is scared to spend money right now because you don’t know what your profits are going to be next week,” Salvas said. “It is a scary time to have to make these decisions, and people are having to change their business model so fast, but you got to be ready for whatever is going to happen.”

Salvas said weather permitting, he will be able to maintain steady sales.

Staff writer at Rio Rancho Observer