Tucked away in the recent news about the renovation of the historic El Vado Motel on Central Avenue was a tidbit about a brewery taproom being part of the redevelopment. Ponderosa Brewing will open its first offsite taproom, with a fall opening being the target. In order to get a little more detail, I stopped by the brewery to chat with head brewer Antonio Fernandez.
Antonio said the same developer who remade the Sawmill District is overseeing the El Vado project. That developer, Chad Rennaker, is also the owner of Ponderosa and its sister brewery in Portland, Ore., PINTS Brewing.
“That’s been another project he’s been working on for a few years, actually,” Antonio said. “(He has been) getting the licensing and zoning, all kinds of things together for the new development with the El Vado. Finally, everything came together recently, just after the beginning of the year.”
The property at Central and New York Avenue will be redeveloped into a multi-use project.
“They’re planning on a boutique hotel,” Antonio said. “It’s going to be pretty nice, actually. Some park space, a few shops, a food pod kind of concept, and then we’re going to have a small Ponderosa Brewing taproom over there as well. Hopefully once (Albuquerque Rapid Transit) construction and all that on Central calms down and gets out of the way, with the proximity to Tingley Beach and being directly across the street from the BioPark, I think it could be a pretty nice little tourist destination. That’s going to be the site of our first off-site taproom.”
Ponderosa will only be taking its beers to the taproom. The food pod concept is similar to the Green Jeans Farmery, with multiple small eateries surrounding the Santa Fe Brewing taproom. Antonio said there will be anywhere from three to eight eateries.
In terms of mileage, the taproom will be awfully close to the mothership, but the belief is that it will attract a different crowd.
“It’s going to be a completely different vibe,” Antonio said. “There’s going to be a lot of out-of-towners staying there. I guess at some point there is going to be another development behind it, another parcel of land that’s going to include some condos, some apartments, buildings like that. There will be that neighborhood crowd at some point as well.
“It is pretty close to us, but right now it might as well be miles and miles away. Back in February they had a small light the sign, flip the switch kind of ceremony. The mayor was there, a couple city councilors. We just set up the jockey box and served some beer out in the dirt lot. There was nothing else going on besides a chain link fence and a lone backhoe waiting to get started.”
Anything that can help a brewery increase its customer base is a good thing. We wish everyone at Ponderosa luck with the taproom, and we will keep tabs on just when it will open later this year.