Stimulate your appetite with juicy facts and figures.

New Mexico Restaurants

Locations – 3,468
Employees – 96,400 – 11% of employment in the state in 2019
Industry Sales (as forecast) – $4 billion
Projected job growth by 2029 – 8% increase
Industry-generated Gross Receipts Tax – $216 million

National Restaurants

Locations – 1 Million+
Employees –15 Million (10% of the nation’s workforce)
2017 Industry Sales (as forecast) – $863 billion

NMRA Contacts

Carol Wight, CEO
505-343-9848, 505-250-2911 (cell) or 800-432-0740

Allison Kuper Smith, Lobbyist


Served on the rocks or with a helping of heavy taxes on New Mexicans.

Liquor or Soft Drink Excise Taxes – Oppose

On behalf of its membership, NMRA will oppose liquor or soft drink excise taxes. These are taxes placed on liquor or soft drinks at the manufacturer or wholesale level, which in essence constitute hidden fees on New Mexicans that are regressive and create pyramiding taxation. New Mexicans already pay among the highest liquor taxes in the nation and restaurants collect nearly 10% in GRT for both soft drinks and liquor.

Liquor Tax Percentage Allocation Increase –  Support

NMRA supported the liquor excise tax increase in 1994 to be used for DWI prevention and treatment programs. Currently, only 34.57% of the liquor excise tax collected is put toward prevention and treatment programs. We support additional allocations from this fund to be used for these programs. We do not support additional taxes.

Blood Alcohol Level Decrease  – Oppose

Lowering the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit to .05 would turn responsible social drinkers into criminals, deter people from having a drink at a restaurant and more important, it will not do much to reduce drunken driving deaths. A better focus for New Mexico would be to target hard-core drinkers on their 5th DUI charge. A 170-pound man could hit .05 by consuming three beers or glasses of wine in an hour, and a 137-pound woman by consuming just two.)


All entrées are served with a healthy portion of New Mexico Restaurant Association initiatives.

Increased Funding for Tourism Advertising – Support

We support investing in tourism marketing to bring in new dollars, create new jobs and showcase our beautiful state. The New Mexico Tourism Department has clearly demonstrated that marketing New Mexico outside the state has huge benefits for the state’s economy. For every $1 spent in tourism advertising, we see $3 in state and local taxes and over $30 spent in local economies. 3,000 new jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector.


Prepared with the finest intentions, here are a few dishes worth sharing.

Minimum Wage – Stay the Course

Because restaurants provide many first job opportunities (one in three Americans get their first job in restaurants), our industry is hardest hit when minimum wages increase. We negotiated a reasonable increase to the state minimum wage in 2019. We must take the time implement these changes to help our rural restaurants absorb the increases incrementally.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Support Employee Funded PFML

Make Paid Family Leave More Sustainable. If we are going to invest millions of dollars into a paid family leave program, we must ensure that employee funding meets the benefit cost, to avoid additional rate increases on employees or the potential of employers having to pay into the program. Among other things by adopting a 60-70% wage replacement, like other states, and allowing employees to opt out of the program, we can make it more sustainable.

Liquor Licenses

The restaurant industry is aware of the problems that surround New Mexico liquor licenses. We have formed an internal task force to study possible solutions. We would ask that the state take a disciplined, research-based, approach and work with the industry on solutions.

ProStart the Workforce Solution – Publish the map with statistics of students staying in school, doing better on standardized tests and having a waiting list.

Plastic Bans

NMRA Supports Public Health. NMRA opposes any measure that would result in potential health hazards. Taking reusable, unwashed bags or containers into a food preparation area could bring outside contaminates into a sanitary environment. NMRA supports the use of cost-effective single use containers and bags that protect food and prevent food waste.

ProStart and Restaurant Ready – Support

We support workforce and PED funding for ProStart a two-year, industry–backed culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school students. This CTE program has over 3,000 students in 35 high schools throughout New Mexico and a waiting list of hundreds of students in most high schools that embrace this program. ProStart students finish the program ready to join the workforce and make an immediate impact in restaurants and foodservice. ProStart students can attain a Certificate of Achievement (COA) to enter the workforce and earn credits towards higher education.

Restaurant Ready – The Restaurant Ready™ program is a national program to engage and empower disengaged opportunity youth (OY), reentry adults and underserved populations that need work readiness skills to pursue a path to employment and life-long success.

Food For Thought

Every $1 increase in the minimum wage costs a restaurant owner $2,000 per year per employee. 20 employees = $40,000 plus taxes per year.


Giving back is a sweet way to help our communities. In fact, 90% of restaurant operators provide generous helpings of food, cash and events.

85% give food

79% donate cash

40% provide space for events

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