Archive for January 21, 2019

The future location of the Nexus Blue Smokehouse could open its doors in February.

Nexus Brewery owner Ken Carson is a busy man these days. We had originally scheduled an interview for a Look Back/Look Ahead Series entry back in December, but it had to be postponed until last week. When we did have the time to sit down to talk about everything, from the early challenges in 2018 to the forthcoming third Nexus location tentatively expected to open in February, I also ended up getting a bit of a lesson in local history, which fits particularly well on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

First, a bit of background. Yes, the long-awaited Nexus Blue Smokehouse is getting close to finally opening its doors. Its location at 1523 Broadway SE, just south of Avenida Cesar Chavez, has a connection to the past that made it too important for Ken to pass up when he was looking for a third Nexus location.

“I know some people are probably wondering why that location,” he said. “My family is from Albuquerque. My dad, his parents brought him to that neighborhood back in 1929. Our family has been in that area for a long time. Now, the neighborhood doesn’t look like it used to be (because it was) the black neighborhood. That was the only place you could buy a house in Albuquerque back in those days.”

The demographic of the neighborhood has shifted in the decades since from African-American to Hispanic, but the previous owner of the building was still tied into the original history.

“The guys that owned the building were the Navajo Elks,” Ken said. “The history of the Navajo Elks was the Navajo Elks were all over the country, (they were) the African-American Elks. They separated from the regular Elks, in fact they just stole the name. They got sued over it, but then ultimately the Elks just gave up and said forget it.”

Segregation caused a need for separate establishments.

“Then what happened was because blacks couldn’t go to the nightclubs and stuff … they put various nightclubs across the country especially in parts of the country where the population of blacks was not that big,” Ken said. “The reason being, say you’re in a town in Mississippi where the population was 50 percent, there’s going to be a guy that owns his own nightclub. Well, in New Mexico, I don’t what it was in the 50s, but back in those days the population wasn’t big enough to support it, so they created these nightclubs across the country. I’ve been to ones in Denver, there was here in Albuquerque, (and) there was one in Phoenix. A lot of them were in the Southwest.”

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