ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To put it lightly, it’s been a tough few months for Albuquerque businesses.
The pandemic and its residual fallout has brought thriving businesses to a halt and has caused businesses barely hanging on to drop off altogether.
All told, around 200 businesses in Albuquerque have shuttered since the pandemic began, according to a new economic report released by Yelp.
But the situation is not entirely dismal. Some emptied store fronts are once again getting filled and local businesses are still finding ways to expand.
In the past several weeks the city has seen numerous businesses open or ready to open – from the newly built Stone Age Climbing Gym in the far Northeast Heights to a new pet grooming and bakery store on the West Side.
Stone Age expands to NE Heights
With chalk-covered hands, Bryan Pletta looks upward analyzing his path ahead as he methodically works his way up a towering, 50-foot climbing wall.
For more than two decades, Pletta has led Albuquerque’s rock climbing scene as owner and CEO of Stone Age Climbing Gym. Now, he’s overseeing the opening of Stone Age’s second location on Alameda and San Pedro.
The new $7 million, 27,000-square-foot gym opened to the public on Saturday.
Pletta said he wanted to serve the Northeast Heights and the West Side – and being next to Tin Can Alley is an added bonus. The Midtown location is near Tin Can Alley’s precursor, Green Jeans Farmery.
“To have a place where they can go have a meal, have a beer after climbing, we thought was really kind of great mix,” Pletta said.
Stone Age has been a fixture in Albuquerque’s rock climbing scene since it first opened in 1997. At the time, the city’s rock climbing community only numbered in the low hundreds.
But in the years since, the sport has taken off in popularity and Stone Age has grown to match, expanding several times at its original location before moving entirely to its Midtown location on Cutler in 2014.
“We really weren’t focused on growing the sport so much as just serving our current climber base,” Pletta said. “And then over time, we kind of recognized that it was a great activity that we wanted to give people an experience climbing.”
Pletta said the popularity of rock climbing has really exploded nationally in the past five years and Albuquerque has been no exception.
“People just started recognizing that it’s cool, and it’s a very social way to stay fit,” he said.
Not only will the gym give climbers the chance to scale climbing walls that reach heights of 50 feet and a free-standing boulder – it will also offer youth camps, yoga, fitness classes, weight training and a retail store, Pletta said.
As of last week, exercise classes are once again allowed to resume in New Mexico at a 25% cap on capacity.
For the foreseeable future, operations at Stone Age will be a bit different as well. The new location is capped at 120 people at a time in the facility and the Midtown location is capped at 96.
Climbers will also be required to make reservations in two-hour time slots and sign in and out to allow for contract tracing. Bottles of hand sanitizer are provided and masks must be worn at all times.
Joe Slagle designed the building, which was built by Snyder Construction. The custom climbing walls and padded flooring were built by Walltopia and Flashed Climbing respectively.
Patio fit for a pandemic
As restaurants and breweries clamor to create or expand patio seating with tent rentals and slapdash sidewalk set-ups, the newly opened B2B Garden Brewery at 8338 Comanche NE isn’t having to face those same challenges.
Tucked behind Comanche near Wyoming, the brewery offers two separate patios for patrons to relax and enjoy a beer while sampling tacos outside. Once health orders allow it, diners will also be able to dine inside too.
“We felt so fortunate with everything going on that we were able to open up the garden and host the public there,” B2B head brewer Julian Nunez said.
Though the location may seem designed for compliance with pandemic-induced public health orders, the set-up was actually in the making long before the virus hit, Nunez said.
“The timing felt a little off but it was kind of perfect considering that we have a beer garden in the back and were able to host people out in our garden,” he said.
This is the third outpost for the B2B company, which got its start with Bistronomy B2B in Nob Hill.
The Uptown location, B2B Barrio, closed in late June since much of its business was reliant on travelers and the patio was too small to fit many people. However, the menu was kept and transferred to the Comanche location.
Nunez said the garden location was chosen because the building was large enough to allow B2B to significantly increase the brewing capacity from the Nob Hill operation.
The location also allows for the chance of expansion, and Nunez said there are plans to eventually build a roof top patio.
“You get a good 180 (degree) view of the Sandias looking east and west,” he said.
While the location just opened in early July, Nunez said the neighborhood has already been very welcoming.
“The community has just really embraced us in the Northeast Heights. We love it,” he said. “Locals just show a lot of support for what we’re doing here.”
Dog bakery, groomer opens
A new store for pet owners looking to pamper their pups is now open.
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming opened its first New Mexico location at 9780 Coors NW in late July.
The locally owned franchise offers pet grooming, pet foods, toys, baked treats and other supplies for dog owners, according to a news release from the company.
Woof Gang is national pet store franchise with locations across the country.
To celebrate the opening, Woof Gang Bakery is holding a grand opening from Aug. 8-22 with customers invited to enter a raffle. Raffle prizes include free pet food for a year, collar and leash sets, and a gift basket.
Pilar Martinez covers retail for the Journal. You can reach her at email@example.com or by phone at 505-823-3887.