Restaurant business is hard. Restaurant business in Socorro is arguably harder. Socorro’s population doesn’t have the most expendable income and driving down California St. doesn’t exactly scream “thriving”. And how often do you hear students complain about the lack of things to do around town?
“The restaurant business is notoriously small profit margin, and it’s subject to all kind of market fluctuations.” said Dr. Eileen Comstock, who owns M Mountain Coffee with her husband, Warren Marts. “Will the buying power in Socorro match those fluctuations?” Probably not. According to Data USA, Socorro has a 28.6% poverty rate. There’s not a lot of money, fluctuation or not.
Besides Socorro residents, the demographic with a larger dispensable income doesn’t get in town often enough. Think about your friends who live in the dorms but never get of campus, or how many of your professors commute into town everyday. They’re not buying groceries, going to the Loma on the weekends, or hanging out with friends over some local food. That money leaves town.
But if you don’t like walking or don't have another way to commute, campus is out of the way. “One of the big things about restaurants -especially coffee- is location.” said Dr. Comstock. “Side streets don’t cut it. You have to be on the main drag or established enough people look for you.” That leaves California St. as the prime location, which feeds off through traffic but doesn’t do much for students. Campus is on the opposite side of the town, and it’s surrounded by residential zones with no businesses.
Despite the daunting prospects, Socorro native Willie Mozley is fulfilling his entrepreneurial duties as a millennial and opening his own coffee shop in Magdalena, half an hour west on Highway 60. The shop will open up in Evett’s an old brick building on the main strip. It’s a big risk, so why do it?
Interestingly, both Dr. Comstock and Willie cited community as motivators for opening their respective coffee shops.
“I’ve always had an interest in coffee and food, and after spending a lot of time in Magdalena and seeing what little option we had, I felt like I had to open something up… It’s rewarding to serve people good food and coffee.” said Willie. “One of the big things that keeps me going is the support of the community. A lot of people feel connected to the building since it’s been around so long.”
So business is hard and Socorro is slow. What are we to do? My advice is to spend time off campus exploring Socorro. Supporting local businesses helps them out, but it also gives you more options on how to spend your time. The responsibility fall on us, as members of the community to support our community. President Wells has taken steps in the right right direction by having NMT assist in opening the Loma Theater, but Socorro is still in need of help from it’s most affluent population. If you want Socorro to be a better place to live, make it work for you.