There are two sides to every story. Yes, the virus is bad. Yes, social distancing needs to happen and, yes, going out isn’t the thing to be doing right now. But that is the logical side. The one that’s based on self-preservation. But what about our human side? The ones based in the need for social interaction? The one with compassion for the businesses in need of our financial support to continue paying staffers who are already living paycheck to paycheck? What is the answer to that question? I’ll be honest with you; it’s not a simple one. In the past week, I’ve had to update what this means multiple times, as new restrictions are levied, and I can’t even guarantee that this will be accurate by the time it hits newstands.
With rapid shifts in what can and cannot happen within a restaurant, there is unease from everyone about what will happen to our favorite dining establishments as eating out will evaporate over the next few weeks. Even moreso, we have tipped restaurant workers who rely specifically on dining-in business to earn their income. If the messages on compensation and coverage from the government were clear, this wouldn’t be as much of a worry, but it’s still not entirely clear who is and isn’t covered. So how do we help ensure their survival?
There are a few ways. Social distancing can be practiced without total isolation. Currently, many places you love are offering their entire menu as takeout. You can still have a wonderful dinner from your favorite spot while enjoying it in the comfort of your own home. Make it a date night and bust out a nice bottle of wine to go with your nachos. Just remember, most of the staff are paid through tips, and while they won’t be doing cleanup and drink service for you, they are still taking and placing your order and compiling and ensuring it’s correct, all while making sure that by the time you get home, you need for nothing on their end. Be generous if you have the means to, as they have basic needs to cover as well.
Maybe you don’t want to buy dinners out and simply prefer doing things at home on your terms, or maybe you prefer the atmosphere of the restaurant but choose to stay away right now because it’s the smart thing to do. Don’t worry, I’ve got that covered, too. A gift card can be bought and used at any time. It’s a way to vote with your wallet that you support local and plan to return to them soon. Then, you’ve got it sitting on your fridge, a date night just begging to happen. Don’t have any dates lined up because of social distancing or the fact that people just aren’t that into you? I’ve been there before! Then you’ve got a “treat yourself” night in the bag. Plan to use it on those days you come home and need a real pick-me-up.
But what about those New Mexicans who are stepping up and doing more? While I can’t provide a comprehensive list, I found a few who are going above and beyond. First off, for our seniors, it’s been announced that fees associated with home-delivered meals will be waived so all eligible seniors can receive them. Seniors who would like to request a home-delivered meal should call the Bernalillo County Metro Area Agency on Aging at 768-2084. For seniors outside Bernalillo County, call the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging at 1-866-699-4627, and for seniors living on tribal or pueblo lands, the number to call is 1-800-432-2080, while Navajo Nation seniors should call 1-928-871-6868. On our Facebook page right now, we have a list of 89 sites providing Grab & Go meals to students during three-week school closure from 10 am to 1 pm. The link to that is bit.ly/505gag.
Additionally, Cheese and Coffee Downtown and Seared (119 San Pasquale Ave. SW) will be offering a small soup, grilled cheese or PB&J sandwich and chips for kids between the hours of 10am and 2pm, as long as you call ahead to 242-0326. Urban Hotdog Company (10250 Cottonwood Park Dr. NW Ste. 400-H) will also be joining the efforts from 11am to 2pm, offering a classic starter hotdog with a side of housemade chips or a salad. If you’re in Nob Hill, El Taco Tote (4701 Central Ave. NE) will be offering two bean and cheese tacos or a cheese quesadilla with a side of rice. This will be valid at the drive-thru only, while parents can snag a 20 percent discount during the hours of 11am to 1pm, Monday through Friday. For all these locations, a child must be present.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be a little complicated and confusing. We all know that there is no one simple solution or easy answer. This is uncharted territory for everyone, and we’ll all be doing the best we can. There’s going to be furloughs and layoffs, there’s going to be closures and losses, but at the end of the day, we are a support system for each other. Many of us won’t be able to do much, but what little we can do has a ripple effect. With safe practices that keep others from harm, we can slow the spread, knock Covid-19 out early and get back to standard life in no time. In the meantime, let’s do what we can for the businesses we love to help soften the blow on everyone.