LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - International Delights Café in Las Cruces has been serving international cuisine to Las Crucens for 22 years, but it might have to shutter its doors because of increasing minimum wage costs.
Owner Garadan Alamir told ABC-7 the restaurant could be closing as soon as June 15th. Alamir said he is having to make a hard decision he wishes he didn't have to make.
In January of 2019, the minimum wage in the City of Las Cruces increased to $10.10 an hour. In 2020, the minimum wage in the State of New Mexico will increase to $9 an hour. In 2023, the statewide minimum wage will increase to $12 an hour.
"I have about 15 employees. Many of them, you know, have been [working here] 17, 18 years, so that's part of their life," Alamir said. "Unfortunately, I won't be able to find jobs for all those 15 people. It's really difficult to let them go."
Alamir is hoping the story of his business' struggle provides an opportunity to re-evaluate what's best for the Las Cruces community.
"Think what can we do to help small businesses; either cut some taxes, bring in industry to town," Alamir suggested. "I've been for higher pay, but what can we do as a community to make sure that doesn't hurt small businesses?"
And members of the community are saddened by the possible closure.
"They have the best food, the best ambiance," said a patron of the restaurant said. "I'm sad. I'm sad."
Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima told ABC-7 City Council is open to revisiting the minimum wage debate and hopes to hear directly from the businesses affected by the minimum wage increases. He also said he hopes to meet with Governor Lujan-Grisham to discuss reconsidering the state-wide $12 minimum wage because he thinks it will greatly hurt Las Crucens.
According to Alamir, five businesses have closed in the last six months. If International Delights closes, his restaurant would be the sixth.