Only a lunatic would plan to open an offsite taproom during a pandemic.
Well, then again, maybe not. After all, building owners still need tenants to fill empty spaces, so maybe, just maybe there are good deals to be found out there.
That is exactly what Turtle Mountain Brewing owner Nico Ortiz found in the Enchanted Hills neighborhood on the north side of Rio Rancho, near the intersection of highways 528 and 550. TMBC will be opening a new offsite taproom in early 2021 in a shopping center off Enchanted Hills Blvd. just west of 528.
“It may seem counter intuitive to expand during a pandemic, but we were never going to get a deal like that,” Ortiz said. “We couldn’t pass it up.”
The taproom will be just under 4,500 square feet, with a 1,500-square-foot patio, which was a necessity for Ortiz and TMBC.
“We wanted a patio even before all of this,” he said.
TMBC will have a full kitchen at the new location.
“We’re going to have a restaurant and a (small brewer offsite) taproom license,” Ortiz said. “We’ll take the menu from here plus the Timbuctu menu. It will harken back to the past.”
The last time Turtle Mountain had a taproom, it was the aforementioned Timbuctu, which was located in the Mariposa neighborhood. That place closed in 2012. Before that, there was a taproom in the East Mountains from 2003 to 2005.
“It was all a learning adventure,” Ortiz said with a laugh.
Ortiz had been talking for quite some time about looking for a new offsite location. In fact, we are pretty sure in almost every one of our Look Back/Look Ahead Series articles on TMBC for several years, he mentioned it. He did look in Albuquerque, but ultimately felt that with Rio Rancho’s growth over the years, it is more than big enough to hold a second location.
“Our name recognition across the river is not nearly like Rio Rancho,” Ortiz said. “Expanding in Rio Rancho really was our best bet. It’ll pay dividends.”
There are around 7,000 houses near the new taproom, so it should not cannibalize the crowd from the original TMBC. The taproom will take the rest of the year to set up, which is just fine, Ortiz said.
“We don’t have to be in a rush,” he said, while adding that he hopes “this mess (the pandemic) is mostly over” by the turn of the year.
It is a good sign, in our humble opinion, to see one of our oldest breweries is still moving forward, even during these difficult times. Right now, we will take any positivity we can get.
Good luck to Nico and everyone at Turtle Mountain. We look forward to enjoying some pizza and a few pints at the new location in 2021.
Keep supporting local!