The Bosque San Mateo taproom closed out its nearly seven-year run with a farewell fiesta on Saturday. The only thing is, Bosque will still be brewing at that location, even with La Reforma Brewery set to take over the taproom space this summer. How it will all work going forward comes down to one word — synergy — as 8900 San Mateo NE moves into the future.
To get all of this cleared up, I sat down with La Reforma co-founder John Gozigian, Bosque chief experience officer/owner Jess Griego, and Bosque chief executive officer/owner Gabe Jensen.
“There’s a lot of confusion over who’s behind each thing,” John said. “So La Reforma is a project that was put together by me, Jeff Jinnett, and some investors we brought in. Bosque is involved as well. They contributed basically the entire physical plant, brewing and kitchen equipment, and are substantial owners of the company, too.
“There’s been a lot of synergies developed as the project has moved forward. We’ve figured out a lot of efficiencies and synergies that I think will be good for both businesses. One of the coolest things that’s happening is the current brewers at Bosque San Mateo are going to remain on site and be the brewers for La Reforma. And, they’re also going to be brewing all of Bosque’s one-offs and seasonals for the foreseeable future.”
That latter part is certainly important, as a few customers at Bosque had expressed concern to me that there could be a drop-off in seasonal/specialty offerings with just the one production brewhouse in Bernalillo.
“That’s why we wanted to address it,” Jess said. “It’s not like it’s been a secret. In our minds it’s already been agreed to and a non-issue, (but) then we’re seeing customers’ concerned. It’s kind of business as usual in that sense. There’s not going to be a shortage on specialty beers.”
Having a team of experienced brewers will further help La Reforma get off the ground in a faster time frame than most new breweries.
“The brewery itself will be transferred to and operated by La Reforma, but it will be staffed by the same people that ran Bosque,” John said. “They’re going to be able to continue to brew all their beers (and) they’re going to brew our core styles. We’re probably going to do four beers out of the gate that are our lineup and then to round out our selection, we’re planning on using Bosque to do our guest taps. What’s good for us is we’re getting John Bullard and Tim Woodward and Robert Buskirk-Lechner’s expertise, and off that we don’t have to recruit and train and staff our own brewery right away while we’re getting the rest of the business going.”
The brewing team of Robert, Steve Rutonno, and Will Waldrep will thus remain at 8900 San Mateo, as keeping a secondary brewhouse was important to Bosque, too.
“It works out for us, too, now that we have this transition of not having a second brewery that we’ve been planning on this whole time, we can (still) use that one,” Gabe said. “I think the word synergy is really the best word. I think we’re both going to benefit in a lot of ways from this. The size of the taproom as a standalone doesn’t need a 15-barrel brewhouse. We’re not brewing to capacity there anymore at all. I think it will keep our staff busier and happier. Brewers like to brew, they like to come up with new beers. It’s been fun being back there for the co-op series lately and just watching it.”
John said La Reforma will have four core styles out of the gate, relying on Bosque to fill its guest taps.
“On our short list now for styles we’re going to start out with we’re going to do a Mexican light lager and a Mexican dark lager,” John said. “We haven’t quite decided if we’re going to go full traditional German styles that those were based on, like a Munich dunkel for the dark lager or a pilsner for the light lager. That remains to be seen. We’re going to do a hazy IPA because they’re popular apparently. We’re toying with the idea of a Belgian wit with hibiscus as one of our core styles.”
While things will continue as per usual in the suite occupied by the brewing equipment, John and his team will take over the taproom starting today, with an eye on having it ready to reopen as La Reforma in June.
“We officially have the space as of April 1, so that’s (this) Monday,” John said. “We’re going to go all-out to get the renovations we’re doing as quickly as possible. There’s not a lot of stuff that’s going to happen structurally, but we need a new lighting package, a new furniture package, redesign of the bar, just some equipment specific to what we’re doing. It’s going to be a taqueria style menu, so there are things like vertical rotisseries that we need to bring in for tacos el pastor, some other specialized items, (like) a churro fryer so we can make fresh churros.”
Save for the exceptionally busy stretch from around 5 to 7 p.m., the farewell fiesta was a fitting end for Bosque’s first location, which had opened back in the fall of 2012. There was a bit of sepia-tinged nostalgia seeing a lot of old faces out there for the staff and beer writers alike, but ultimately Jess and Gabe would rather look toward a positive future.
“Obviously it’s the end of an era and kind of sad, but I think this is an exciting, new, fresh concept that Bosque’s still involved in,” Jess said. “Our beer will still be there. I’m excited for this new phase and that there’s still going to be a brewery there. It’s a location where all of those loyal customers can still go and have a new experience and create new loyalties to La Reforma. I think it would be more sad if it were shutting down and be vacant.”
“We’re excited what started there and we’re excited that something will continue and we’re a part of it,” Gabe added. “I’m really excited about who we’re partnering with in this space. I think that’s part of what makes it exciting for us, and just see new life breathed into it, but still retaining the good (memories).”
With Restoration Pizza, another Bosque project, set to open in the coming weeks, there is plenty of excitement to go around for the company. Every employee who worked in the San Mateo taproom has been reassigned to another location, so they will all move forward together. Gabe also added that with much of the Restoration hiring complete, Bosque will now have more than 200 employees.
“For me, I just (didn’t) want the excitement that we have (for La Reforma) getting lost,” Gabe added. “There’s so many moving parts in business. I’m thrilled with how things are working out.”
We are certainly thrilled to know that the vast and flavorful variety of specialty beers will continue at the Bosque Public House in Nob Hill, Bosque North in Bernalillo, and soon at Restoration Pizza and this summer at La Reforma. A big thanks to John, Jess, and Gabe for the interview.
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