Mother’s Place Gift Shop and Café struggles during pandemic

Leah Romero

| Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – A local small-business owner opened her restaurant in February, but after only two weeks of serving the community, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state. She has struggled ever since.

Vivian Moore co-owns Mother’s Place Gift Shop and Café with her husband, Miles Moore. She operated the former dispensary Mother Earth Herbs at the same location, but now focuses on CBD products.

She said the restaurant opened at the end of February and operated for a couple of weeks before restaurants and non-essential businesses were forced to close, due to public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, her business was allowed to remain open.

“Because we have the CBD and we were a dispensary and we are a restaurant, then we’re considered (an) essential (business),” Moore said. “Throughout this whole mess we’ve had takeout available and even curbside. If somebody wants us to bring it out to them, we can do that.”

The restaurant is located in the Telshor Tower Plaza, near Tiffany’s Pizza and Greek Cuisine, facing the back of Hotel Encanto. With current COVID-19 restrictions in place, she can currently seat about eight people inside, and the restaurant features a north-facing covered patio for outdoor seating. Moore said she thought their location would draw customers from the hotel, especially for breakfast. She said business was better when the state allowed a higher percentage of people to dine-in.

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“The first time that (Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) reopened and let us have 60% dine-in, it was better. Now that it’s 25%, and people are required to do the tracing, I think that people aren’t even wanting to go out and people are tired of takeout,” Moore said. “Picking up and taking it home and heating it up — not every meal works to be heated up.”

Moore’s menu offers an array of sandwiches every day, but also features weekday entrée specials on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This includes a more than 100-year-old recipe for lasagna Moore said came from her grandmother, who lived in a small town near Naples, Italy, as well as Jessie’s KC BBQ, who shared his recipes with Moore. She described her menu as “down-home comfort food.”

A menu is set for three of five days, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for special requests from customers. Moore explained that people can call in and ask for any kind of meal they would like, and she will schedule it for one of the by-request days. She said she is booked through Thanksgiving. Requests include liver and onions, pierogies, pupusas and Ethiopian food.

“You can tell ‘mother’ what you would like to have, and then we’ll get it on the schedule and then let you know when we’re having it,” Moore said.

Customers pay $15 for their meal, which includes a drink and dessert. Moore said the feedback she receives from customers is positive. She mentioned one man visits their restaurant every day for a meal.

Her shop also includes antiques, which she said range from $1 to $10,000 in price, and described it as “eclectic.” She has six rooms filled with collectibles, vintage items and artwork from local artisans. Moore said many of the items were items she and her husband have bought that were sitting in storage, but she is also purchasing other inventory as well.

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“I’ve always liked to do different things. I’ve always been a people person, and I love to cook. And so this was kind of like something I’d always wanted to do, is a restaurant,” Moore said. “My dream was that we had a line out the door, eventually, waiting for my daily specials.”

Mother’s Place is located at 755 S. Telshor Blvd., Building F, Suite 201, and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They offer delivery within about a five-mile radius of their location for an additional $5 fee.

Leah Romero is a fellow with the New Mexico Local News Fund and can be reached at [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.

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