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A year ago this week, the Pajarito Brewpub and Grill opened its doors for the first time, adding a little flair to the local nightlife. The pub was a welcome addition to the local restaurant scene, and it has established a niche as the place to go for cold beer, great food and entertainment, especially late at night.
The business is a creation of four partners: Cathy Mockler, also the owner of North Road Inn, and son Patrick Mockler-Wood; and Pawel and Dorota Listwan. The group met and became good friends two years ago at the Central Avenue Grill. They all had a background in the restaurant industry, and often discussed partnering to open their own restaurant someday. Cathy and Patrick say that after the closure of the Grill, and the subsequent loss of their investment in that restaurant, they all became much more serious about bringing their own project to life.
They began making plans and exploring their options for funding along with storefront space. It all really came together when Patrick received a phone call from the landlord of the old Blockbuster location, who remembered him from a previous inquiry. Soon after, they signed the lease and began remodeling the space. In a little over seven months, they were open for business.
The pub opened with only 18 employees, some of which are still with them today; and the staff has now grown to 42. The owners pointed out that they hold their servers and bartenders to very high standards, assuring that they maintain a professional and knowledgeable staff. Chef David Tripp has also been with the Brewpub since its inception. He was promoted to Executive Chef in March, and puts extraordinary effort into finding creative new foods to accommodate local tastes.
Pajarito Brewpub and Grill serves an eclectic variety of upscale pub fare including gourmet burgers, flat bread pizza, hot wings, and fish and chips. They purchase local foods as much as possible, even shopping at the local Farmers Market; and most of their menu items are also available in a gluten-free version. While some favorites are always available, they strive for variety by changing up the menu on a quarterly basis. In fact, they are about to launch a new menu that will include 6 new wings sauces, “pork wings,” and new varieties of flat bread pizza.
The pub boasts 30 microbrews on tap to choose from. Patrick shared that they try to include as many local varieties as possible, and they are constantly rotating beers to keep the selections interesting. They also carry 48 different varieties of bottled beers, two of them being gluten-free; along with a wide selection of high quality spirits.
The pub also features weekly entertainment including a trivia night on Mondays and live music on Thursday and Saturday. They are currently working on hosting a regular Karaoke night, and have booked HBO and Comedy Central comedian Steve Sabo for an exclusive show on Dec. 13.
In only a year, Pajarito Brewpub and Grill has become one of the top beer sellers in the entire state and is soon to be presented with the Small Business of the Year Award by the New Mexico Small Business Development Center.
The pub has also become a popular location for brewery specific parties, such as Tap Takeover Nights. The next Tap Takeover Nov. 15 will be sponsored by O’Dell Brewing Company out of Fort Collins, Colo., and will feature six exclusive microbrews. Although rumors have been swirling that the pub would be expanding into a larger space upon the opening of the new Smith’s Marketplace, the owners put the rumors to rest. They do plan to expand the patio and cooler space, but no major remodels are planned for the near future.
As the pub approaches the end of its first year, the owners said that they are just shy of serving 200,000 customers. They expressed their gratitude to the community and their regulars for the support; and are looking forward to another successful year ahead.
Share in the celebration this Saturday as they host a special anniversary party. The event begins at 8 p.m. with no cover charge and will feature live music by D.K. and the Affordables.
Visit them 7 days a week from 11 a.m. until midnight (and sometimes later on the weekends).
The kitchen remains open until 10 p.m. To find out more their menu or upcoming events, visit pajaritobrewpubandgrill.com, and on Facebook or call 662-8877.
-April M. Brown