Berlina and Alfonso Maestas dine-in at Uncle T’s Sangwiches and Stews in Lujan Plaza. Amy Byres photo.

For the first time in three months, Sandoval County residents ate inside restaurants last week, with the state allowing 25 percent indoor dining as the county lit up Yellow in the state’s Red to Green test positivity framework.
However, the color yellow urges caution, which most restaurant owners have taken seriously. Some in Sandoval County are concerned that COVID numbers could spike, sending the county back to a Red status.
Socorro County was at a Yellow risk status for two weeks before going back to Red earlier this month. The change in status was most likely due to a spike of 17 reported cases Feb. 3, according to Socorro’s El Defensor Chieftain newspaper.

K’Lynn’s Southern & Cajun Fusion
With multiple rounds of closing and reopening indoor dining since the beginning of the pandemic, the owner of K’Lynn’s Southern & Cajun Fusion has decided to stay to-go only till there is more consistency.
Karen Johnson-Bey said she needs to see the occupancy level stay consistent for multiple months before she will hire employees to meet the needs for indoor dining.
“It is too wishy-washy and we just can’t keep up with buying things and not using them, hiring, not hiring; it is just too much. So at this point, we are still just doing carryout,” she said.
Reducing labor costs is how she has been able to keep the business open. Johnson-Bey applied for this new round of the Paycheck Protection Program but did not qualify.
“I didn’t qualify because you had to be 25 percent in the negative, and I was about 24 percent, like $400 under the mark, so I didn’t qualify for it, which is ridiculous,” she said.
Any money Johnson-Bey has she is saving to ensure bills are being paid every month.
Despite having challenges, she is looking forward to K’Lynn’s fifth annual crawfish boil Feb. 27. She will also serve beignets, which are deep-fried pastries, and more.
For more information, visit klynnsfusion.com or call 453-3068. The restaurant can also be found on Facebook by searching the restaurant’s name and on Instagram @klynnssouthernandcajunfusion.

Uncle T’s Sangwiches and Stews
Clinton Ellison III, co-owner of Uncle T’s Sangwiches and Stews, said the county closing again “is a reality we are prepared for.”
The shop in Lujan Plaza opened in 2019 with Ellison and co-owner Thomas J. Montoya.
If the county were to revert back to the Red with no indoor dining, the shop would need at least three full days to adjust its food order.
“A lot of that depends on how people are purchasing, but I know the way we buy, if we have a three-day notice, it would be phenomenal. We don’t do any alcohol or anything like that, so we have prepared ourselves to go to strictly a to-go model if need be,” Ellison said.
Usually, people who eat in at restaurants spend more money than if they order for pick up, he said. In addition, a to-go model comes with extra expenses like to-go containers, which are typically not factored into the price of menu items.
“We have definitely had to adapt on the fly so if we get closed down again, we are prepared for it,” Ellison said.
To survive COVID, he said he had to be tech-savvy.
“Our point-of-sales system interfaces with DoorDash or Duke City Delivery, so we are able to dispatch like that, so it is more of a partnership,” he said.
By doing this, Ellison has been able to reduce the percentage the delivery service takes from each order. COVID accelerated what is available in delivery services and how they work, he said.
For more information about Uncle T’s Sangwiches, visit allthesangwiches.com or call 404-9345. They are also on Facebook and Instagram @nmsangwiches.

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer