Unexpected news hit our inbox on Wednesday afternoon as Second Street Brewery informed us that they had made the difficult decision to close their original namesake location on Second Street in Santa Fe. The final day of business will be April 9.
The good news is that the Rufina and Railyard locations will remain open, and director of art and branding Mariah Scee responded on email that brewing will continue uninterrupted at Rufina. The original brewhouse and its associated equipment to an as-yet-undisclosed new location, though she acknowledged there could be a gap in between the opening of the new spot, which could mean a temporary reduction in seasonal/specialty draft-only beers for a time.
Second Street has been in business at its original spot, nicknamed The Oldery by locals, since 1996. To put that in perspective, it was the year I graduated from high school and then started college. It was the longest continually operated brewing location in the state since Eske’s Brew Pub shut its doors in Taos in 2019. The only older breweries than Second Street, Santa Fe Brewing and Canteen Brewhouse, have moved brewing locations multiple times in their respective histories that date back to 1988 and 1994.
The reason given for the closure in the official press release was a dispute with the landlord over renewing the lease, which was set to expire in June. Second Street does not own the property, and in the release wrote “the landlord has created an untenable position for renewal with dramatically increased rent and other unfavorable terms which would impact us negatively in the future.”
Sadly, this could only be the beginning of breweries and other businesses throughout the state that lease, rather than own, their properties being forced to make difficult decisions. The ongoing economic woes created by the pandemic have hammered the fragile economy in New Mexico, just as bad if not worse than other parts of the country. We will hold out hope that this is aberration, rather than the start of a trend.
Second Street did state in the release that all employees at the original location will be given the chance to move to either Rufina or the Railyard taprooms. The brewers at the original, led by Tom Ludzia, are not going anywhere, either.
This is an ending, yes, but not the final word on Second Street. We are confident that they will continue to succeed in producing great beer and good times for everyone in Santa Fe and beyond for the foreseeable future. We will look back on our memories of The Oldery fondly. Our own intrepid Santa Fe writer, Luke, lives just down the street from this location, and it became his second home over the years. He texted to say it felt like a death in the family, and we are sure many other people will feel the same way.
For me, I will remember afternoons on the patio, sipping a Kolsch beneath the old cottonwood trees as the breeze rustled the leaves. I will remember the brewery staff letting me come in late one night to use the wi-fi to file a high school basketball story. I will remember stopping there with Franz Solo, hungover and exhausted from the Great American Beer Festival, and devouring the last two roast chickens in stock from their recent Oktoberfest party. Mostly, though, I will remember the people, and how it was the first place I met folks like Tom and Rod Tweet. It was my Santa Fe home away from home, too, and it shall be missed.
If you can make it up there, or just walk over like Luke does, before April 9, raise those pints high and thank everyone for letting you have been a part of New Mexico beer history. Rest easy knowing that Second Street will continue as a brewery, just a little ways down the road.
A big thanks to Rod, Tom, Mariah, and everyone else at Second Street. Luke will follow up with all of you soon, we promised. And, if our schedules allow, you might just see the Burque contingent of the Crew out on that grand patio one more time.
Keep supporting local, now more than ever!