Taos brewery already hurting during pandemic, experiences devastating fire

New Mexico

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Taos Mesa Brewing, which, like many breweries, is already hurting during the pandemic. They’re facing another hurdle after a fire broke out leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The fire happened in the early morning of July 2 at the brewery’s first location called the ‘mothership.’

“I found out about it when I woke up that morning around 6 a.m. and had several messages on my phone from our local fire department and the fire marshal’s office stating there’d been a fire at the ‘mothership,’ So, of course, I hurried over to meet them immediately to see what had happened,” Jayson Wylie, Co-founder and President of Taos Mesa Brewing, said.

He describes what went through his mind when he saw the aftermath of the fire. “You know, it’s surreal. Is this really happening? I’m not a reactive person, I’m not a knee jerk person per se, so I immediately went okay what’s next,” he said.

The fire, which destroyed parts of the brewery and concert venue, is putting the business into an even deeper hole during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the public health crisis, the ‘mothership’ had to close and cancel over 100 shows which Wylie said resulted in an almost immediate 85% drop in revenue.

“As most restaurants, bars, and breweries can tell you, you know, our revenue took an immediate hit,” Wylie said. “The public health order didn’t allow dine-in service, it certainly didn’t allow live events which is you know, like I said, a big part of our revenue. But the bills didn’t stop…So, you’re taking an already suffering business that has had a massive reduction in revenue…you’re bills don’t stop coming in. So, you have to figure out a way to deal with that.”

They planned to open up for take out service only on the day the fire broke out.

Wylie said the damage is considered a ‘large loss’ with at least $250,000 in damage, though no exact amount has been determined yet. The community is pitching in. A GoFundMe has already raised over $17,000 for the business to stay afloat until insurance money comes through. Wylie said the community support ‘means a lot’ and that they are grateful for it.

“I also never expected how much of an impact our business would have on our community,” he said. “We were a beacon for a lot of tourists, for a lot of locals. We supplied a lot of great jobs for people, manufactured great products and you know, I didn’t really understand what that would mean to our community or our customers when we first started. Now it really illuminates how much of a profound impact we’ve had…and that’s heartening to hear and one of the reasons we’re going to try as hard as we can to maintain, to stay open.”

The Taos County Fire Marshal’s investigation concluded the fire was an accident but the cause of the fire is ‘undetermined.’ Wylie hopes to have Taos Mesa Brewing’s mothership location rebuilt by the end of the year. In the meantime, they will do take out at their downtown location.

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