ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A handful of new businesses are opening in Old Town just in time for Balloon Fiesta, and while they hope the new ventures attract tourists, they also hope more locals stop by. From wineries and a brewery to hair salons and flower shops, Old Town’s newest small businesses hope the plaza can be the next ‘it’ spot for locals along the likes of Sawmill Market and El Vado.
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Even the rain couldn’t stop people from strolling through Old Town Thursday. But as hordes of tourists continue to flock to the area during Balloon Fiesta, some new tenants hope locals will also join in on the fun.
“It’s such a shame when you sit here and look out there and think only tourists get to enjoy this part of Albuquerque because it really is a magical spot,” said Cody Hoffmon with Outpost 1706 Brewhouse and Downshift Brewing Co. “This is such a missed opportunity for locals, such a beautiful place.”
It’s part of the reason more local small businesses are moving into the renovated Plaza Don Luis. Featuring new businesses like Outpost 1706, Noisy Water Winery and Turquoise Tree Flower Shop, those behind the plaza’s revitalization hope to bring more Albuquerque residents in.
“I grew up in Albuquerque, so did Cody, and we really only came to Old Town when you had someone come in from out of state and wanted to show them the older part of New Mexico,” said Pete Kassetas with Outpost 1706 Brewhouse and Downshift Brewing Co. “Now we want it to be a destination spot, not only for the tourists, like I said but the locals.”
One of the new businesses to open is Flying Roadrunner Bakery. Owners say they jumped at the chance to move into historic Old Town.
“It’s a really good change in that direction,” said Shawn Farr, co-owner of Flying Roadrunner Bakery. “Really excited about everything that’s coming to Albuquerque. It’s been overdue and everyone’s excited about it.”
The plaza is situated along Rio Grande Boulevard, between hot spots like Sawmill Market and El Vado. The owners of the new bakery hope Plaza Don Luis will become the next “it” spot for locals.
“The people here are so kind and welcoming. We’re excited to be a part of such a big venture with the plaza opening up,” said Erika Farr, co-owner of Flying Roadrunner Bakery. “One night we were visiting the tree during COVID and we were enjoying the atmosphere and had seen a property available.”
Even area artists are getting in on the changes to Old Town. Businesses have started recruiting them for murals and custom art in the new spaces.
“It’s creating a lot more community and that brings business for everybody,” said Juliana Chavez. “Everyone down in this little plaza has been super supportive of it.”
Tasked with bringing new life to Old Town without changing what it’s all about, owners say they’re ready to reintroduce locals to what makes the neighborhood so special. “We’ve really worked with the historical society, the businesses around us, asked a lot of questions and did research, made sure our buildout really did blend in well but I think what we’ve done does stand out,” said Kassetas. “This has been so much needed.”
The plaza also features three new lofts that will be used as Airbnbs, so tourists and locals, alike, can stay in the heart of Old Town. You can see Outpost 1706 this weekend and next during an even with Noisy Water Winery for Balloon Fiesta. They plan to fully open by late November