Even before a state order shut down restaurants' sit-down service, customers had started dwindling at Tesuque Village Market—both the restaurant and store—as information about COVID-19 began spreading and locals grew more apprehensive about eating out.
"So we called it," manager Charlie Parker says, closing sit-down service at the restaurant even before the state mandate. That meant, like many other local eateries, switching to a to-go model, albeit one bolstered by TVM's ability to sell packaged liquors. Nonetheless, Parker says, staffing needs—including his own position—shrunk. And the timing couldn't have been worse.
"This was right before spring break and we'd bulked up all our stock," he says. "We were facing spoilage, and I'd imagine a lot of restaurants all over the city are facing that by not being able to serve those meals."
What to do? Crowdfund and feed Santa Fe's essential frontline workers, obviously.
With an assist from local podcast producer Delaney Hall, who birthed the idea, Parker and Tesuque Village Market have launched the Santa Fe Frontline Food Project through GoFundMe.com in hopes of delivering breakfast burritos, pastries and Ohori's coffee twice weekly to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center workers, as well as to Presbyterian's facilities in Santa Fe and possibly Española.
"People who can telecommute or who are laid off can hopefully just stay in their houses, but these people can't," Parker says. "I saw this as a way of being able to volunteer without having to go out to volunteer."
Parker says the food will be made at the market—which is still open—and delivered by TVM staff, with any funds raised benefiting food, labor and payroll; some front- and back-of-house workers could potentially return to work. Still, he says, "A lot of people would probably volunteer their time." Parker, himself, is acting as a volunteer.
Otherwise, he says, it's an experimental pilot program, and nobody really knows how it will go. If TVM's model succeeds, Parker says, other Santa Fe restaurants could attempt their own versions.
"I would highly encourage anyone who wants to be an intermediary for something like this to be that intermediary," he adds.
At the time of this writing, the fund had reached just over $600 of a $4,000 goal.