The news broke last week that Red Door Brewing was set to open a taproom in the Northeast Heights this summer. It will be the second off-site taproom for Red Door, quite a ways from both their main brewery on Candelaria west of Interstate 25 and their taproom downtown in the Simms Building.
To learn more about how they came to the decision to take up space in the renovated multi-use complex on the southwest corner of the Wyoming/Comanche intersection, I sat down with head brewer/co-owner Wayne Martinez.
“We had actually been talking to them (Coe & Peterson) for a while,” Wayne said. “When you did your Look Back/Look Ahead (article), we’d already been talking to them. We just weren’t at a point where we wanted to say anything.”
The first place Coe & Peterson had in mind for Red Door was on the opposite side of town.
“We had been looking at (the former) Stumbling Steer, or that’s what they approached us with,” Wayne said. “The West Side is nice, but that location wasn’t for us. I think it will work out pretty well for someone else. It didn’t fit for what we are going for. So we told them that and they said we have this Heights location. Do you like the Heights?”
While Desert Valley will take over the old Steer spot this year, the Red Door ownership jumped at the Heights spot once they saw the developer’s plans.
“I think we got there and saw the outside of the building,” Wayne said. “This was awful, it looks like a doctor’s office in a strip mall from the 90s or something. Then they showed us the whole facade that they were going to redo. At that point I was sold. They told us what else they had planned for it, the Poki (Poki Cevicheria) restaurant. It just seemed like a good fit for us right now.”
Work is now underway on both the exterior and interior of the space for Red Door, Poki Poki, and other potential future tenants.
“The space will probably be 1,500 square feet, but we’re probably going to do only 95 (person) occupancy,” Wayne said. “We’re looking at doing the same theme we have here with the (video) games. We’ll have a retro system up there. We’ll probably also do one or two pool tables.”
There will also be a second floor loft above the bar, with a window facing the Sandias that will likely give patrons a wonderful view at sunset. It will not be the only place to catch all those amazing colors in the sky before dusk.
“There will be an exterior patio,” Wayne said. “We’re on the southernmost part of the building. They put in two huge garage doors. We’re not going to have that big of a patio, maybe 20 to 25 people. That will be facing south. The food trucks will pull up right next to the patio.”
Wayne said that for now he is not worried about the impact a new taproom will have on Red Door’s beer production.
“We’re still focused on distribution even though we’re doing another taproom,” he said. “We’re really trying to push the West Side and a little bit of Santa Fe, too. As far as production goes, we’ll see how this taproom plays out. We’re definitely going to need to get some more kegs. But as far as major equipment, we should be OK.”
Wayne said the taproom location, which is fairly removed from any nearby breweries or taprooms (Marble Heights and Lizard Tail are the closest), fits into Red Door’s belief that the scene will become dominated by “local pubs” in areas of town that are underserved. It also should not have a major impact on the crowd sizes at the main brewery or downtown.
“We’re hoping so,” Wayne said. “We have planned for a little bit of cannibalization from this location. We’re just trying to be precautious based on numbers that are realistic. We’re kind of planning on that, hoping we can appeal to the whole crowd up there all the way to Tramway that doesn’t come down here.”
A new taproom fits Red Door’s current business plan, while also helping to attract new customers and push for future growth.
“It seems to be working for us right now,” Wayne said. “We have no plans of canning anytime soon. As far as the distribution plan goes there, it kind of makes sense trying to expand, trying to stay competitive.”
In this day and age, a brewery cannot sit back and watch its local compatriots run past. We applaud Red Door, Tractor, and all the rest aiming to move forward and continue their growth, while expanding craft beer’s reach into all corners of the metro area and state. We will keep everyone updated on the progress of the new taproom.