The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson

Diners back inside


Last updated 8/29/2020 at 2:42pm

Kevin Wilson

Sarai Fernandez takes an order during Saturday lunch at Don Maria's in Clovis.

The marquee sign has an inviting message in black block letters: "COME ON IN & SIT A WHILE."

A few weeks ago, that would have sounded more like a dare. But on Saturday morning, it was a welcome sight at the Portales Daylight Donuts.

The business was one of many opening up in-person dining for the first time since mid-July following a new public health order from the state.

Restaurants have largely been limited to carry-out and delivery options since the COVID-19 pandemic began, save for a six-week respite in June and July.

Under the new health order, restaurants could offer indoor dining at up to 25% of occupancy and outdoor patio dining at up to 75%.

Owner Sandy Floyd, busy frying up a fresh batch when The News visited, relayed through an employee she hadn't seen many customers opting to dine in, but she was excited to see customers coming inside again and looked forward to some return to normalcy.

Most people continued to use the drive-through window, with the line extending into Second Street, but Dan and Ada Smith felt the donut run wasn't the same if you couldn't go in.

"The smell of the donuts is just wonderful," said Ada as she carried a box with a dozen, plus a couple of bags of donut holes for the grandkids. "If you don't get the donut holes, they go crazy."

Dan Smith said it was nice to have indoor dining again, simply for the concept of going out to do something that didn't involve the grocery store.

Several local eateries continued to keep their dining areas closed, with reasons including but not limited to an abundance of caution, parent company recommendations or a concession that 25% occupancy wasn't substantive.

The lunch time customers at Don Maria's on Prince Street were about 50-50 when it came to indoor or patio dining. Manager Alicia Armijo said business was picking up and customers were glad to have the option as the August heat continued.

"We were excited," Armijo said of getting to add indoor dining. "It's been pretty toasty out there (in the patio)."


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