Three Rivers Brewery Block shutting down until at least late summer

Ownership cites virus restrictions, street work for closure

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times
  • The Three Rivers Brewery opened in downtown Farmington in 1997.
  • The brewery's empire includes a corner restaurant, a pizza restaurant, a craft beer and cocktail lounge, and a taproom.
  • Co-owner Bob Beckley said 75 employees are out of a job.

FARMINGTON — The doors have been open since 1997, but on May 21, the owners of the Three Rivers Brewery Block announced on social media that they have shut down until a more stable business climate and relaxed state restrictions on restaurants allow them to do business again.

“In my eyes, we got hit by the perfect storm,” co-owner Bob Beckley said of the months of access problems due to major city street renovations, combined with state COVID-19 restrictions that shut down restaurant dining rooms across New Mexico.

Businesses across the state also experienced the first phase of the state's minimum wage hike this year.

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“It’s been kind of like getting crushed,” Beckley said on May 21.

The Three Rivers complex stretches down most of a block of Main Street and includes the corner restaurant, a pizza restaurant, a craft beer and cocktail lounge, and a taproom.

This January 2020 file photo shows part of the Three Rivers block, and the Complete Streets Project construction that hampers access to it and other businesses on that part of W. Main Street.

Since a state health order in March, those dining rooms were unused, although take-out service was offered.

Beckley said it’s hard to provide curbside service when the curb is behind a chain link fence in a construction zone. Strict new state health regulations on occupancy and business practices also led the owners to close and hope things get better by late summer.

The new rules ban game rooms and require restaurants to record for a period of weeks the names, email addresses and phone numbers of employees and patrons to assist in tracking possible COVID-19 exposures.

The business, Beckley said, is built on social interactions, so the challenge will be “reinventing ourselves in a new world.”

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That sentiment was restated in the company’s Facebook post.

“Our business model is based on a social atmosphere and we cannot imagine being open without the camaraderie among our friends and customers,” their May 21 Facebook post said in part. “We have shared so many memories, with great times and we want that to be the case again in the future, In the meantime, we will be on our block working on various projects to maintain our buildings in anticipation of reopening when we feel the time is right. We will continue posting on Facebook to keep everyone informed.”

Beckley said 75 employees he considers to be family are out of a job.

The management team at the Three Rivers Brewery enterprises tried to convince city officials to open a pedestrian corridor through the Complete Streets work zone in downtown Farmington. The business cites the construction project as part of the reason the business must shut down for an undetermined time.

The business blasted the city for “poor planning” in executing the Complete Streets project, which brought a chain-link fence within five feet of the business’ front doors and cut off convenient pedestrian access for people parking near the Civic Center.

“We have tried our best to remain open for the past few months, but have reached the point when considering all of the various government restrictions required to conduct business during this time, and with regard toward the safety of our employees and customers, we have made the difficult business decision to stop providing carryout service for now,” the Facebook post said.

Beckley is looking toward reopening as soon as late August, but said he wants to wait “until I see some steadiness come back into the world.”

Three Rivers Brewery and Eatery is pictured on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in Farmington.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at Support local journalism with a digital subscription: