It was a hectic end to 2022 for EsoTerra Ciderworks owners Elizabeth Philbrick and Jared Scott, who had to leave their tasting room location at 934 Main Ave. in Durango.
They had to move because they were subleasing the space from RV rental company Outdoorsy, which shut its doors in October. By Oct. 31, the cidery owners had to be out of their location between west Ninth and 10th streets.
This left EsoTerra without a tasting room for over a month. Philbrick frantically searched all over Durango for a new location, sifting through the county assessor’s website for property along Main Avenue.
“Nothing on Main Avenue is available on the market very long,” Philbrick said. “If it does hit the market, it will get switched over to different people before you even see a sign go up.”
It was a stressful period for the owners, who were concerned about helping their staff with employment. Philbrick even offered to pay staff members to babysit her kids while she went out and looked at new properties.
However, Mountain Monk Coffee closed its location at 558 Main Ave. on Nov. 7 – a former Starbucks location – according to a Facebook post by the coffee shop. This opened a space for EsoTerra. After calling around town, she was contacted by Amy Jackson of Jackson and Jackson LLC, who owned the building previously occupied by Mountain Monk Coffee.
“When we realized what the space was, I openly wept in happiness,” she said.
In late November, EsoTerra announced through social media that it would take over the 558 Main Ave. location. The cidery’s small team of employees went straight to work in an attempt to get the new tasting room open by Noel Night. On Dec. 15, the tasting room reopened and hosted several Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs cohorts.
Philbrick said it was a chance to gain exposure for the tasting room’s new location while bringing attention to other local entrepreneurs. EsoTerra was also a SCAPE cohort in 2020.
“We wanted to be able to provide some Main Avenue space for companies that are getting up off the ground through SCAPE,” Philbrick said. “We were massively helped by entrepreneurship community in Durango, and that’s really how we got up and off the ground in 2019.”
While the new location has allowed for more visibility, Philbrick said the tasting room hasn’t seen a major increase in customers. She says that is likely because the tasting room still does not have a sign and residents normally associate the southern part of downtown with tourists.
“I’ve literally heard someone say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing to eat over there,’” Philbrick said.
She was quick to point out all of the different options in the 500 block of Main Avenue, such as Sizzling Siam, Nini’s Taqueria and EsoTerra, which upgraded its food menu since the move.
As soon as the owners discovered they were moving into the new location, they made the trek to Denver and brought back a whole trailer’s worth of kitchen equipment.
EsoTerra was not able to serve many food options in its previous space because it lacked kitchen space.
“Now we have a chef, and he's doing these just phenomenal sauces and jams that go on our charcuterie plates, baking fresh bread and we’re now baking croissants in the morning,” she said.
EsoTerra may also begin opening in the mornings to offer espresso.
With the move, the tasting room has added more employees, going from three to seven. Two of the employees also work at the Dolores location during the summer.
The new tasting room also allows EsoTerra to host more events, which Philbrick says will help bring in more customers. The events will include live music, comedy nights and a drag queen brunch.
She said hosting events was more difficult when EsoTerra shared a space with Outdoorsy because the owners had to get permission and make sure it was in line with Outdoorsy’s messaging.
“We can be a little bit more risqué now and flexible,” she said. “If someone calls me in an emergency and says, I've got 50 people coming from out of town and nowhere to go, I can say, don't worry, I got you.”
Weather permitting, EsoTerra was scheduled to set up its outdoor patio Wednesday. During the summer, the patio will feature a piano for live music performances.