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Three Rivers Brewery reopens after a year

Four business fronts were closed
Patrick Liessmann, co-owner of Three Rivers Brewery, throws a little shuffleboard last week in the taproom of the brewery, which was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FARMINGTON – Three Rivers Brewery, a mainstay of downtown Farmington, has reopened after being closed for a year.

The brewery closed March 17, 2020, but was able to reopen when some COVID-19 restrictions were lifted March 29 this year. Three Rivers takes up 75% of a block on Main Street and consists of the brewery, pizzeria, distillery lounge and taproom.

The decor of the Three Rivers restaurant is more historical, said owner John Silva, while the decor of the pizzeria is more hipster.

“I let some of the employees do all of the graphic art on the walls,” Silva said.

Three Rivers Brewery on Main Street in Farmington recently opened after being closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the taproom is kind of “funky,” while the restaurant has a more historical feel with its original 1911 ceiling.

“We’ve been here for 25 years, and we’re an anchor business in downtown Farmington, so a lot of people have been chomping at the bit for us to open,” Silva said.

While the taproom has been able to be open, the brewery opened when San Juan County went to the Turquoise Level status. Now the brewery, tap room and distillery lounge are open. Silva said the pizzeria would be the last business front to open.

The business opened in 1997, Silva said, but 2020 was the “worst situation I’ve ever been in in the business.”

“We’ve lost an enormous amount of money over the last year,” Silva said.

Customers enjoy a drink in the Three Rivers Brewery taproom, which recently reopened after being closed during the pandemic.

He added that he had to lay off all of his 85 employees when the shutdowns happened. Now, he said, he is slowly hiring the employees back, but not everyone at once because there is a limited menu and the uncertainty of the pandemic looms over future operations. He also said some employees have moved on.

“A lot of employees left the area because of the stringent rules in New Mexico, and they moved to Texas or Oklahoma,” Silva said. “... They had to get jobs, you know? Go out and get jobs.”

Three Rivers Brewery employees Kiley Morris, bartender, and Billy Newton, distillery manager, talk before opening for the afternoon. The distillery lounge recently reopened after being closed during the pandemic.

Silva said getting quality help in Farmington is difficult because a lot of the workforce moved out of the city or state.

The uncertainty of the pandemic has the entire staff worried because Silva said employees didn’t know if they were going to have to close again, and employees would have to figure out what to do with the food so it wouldn’t go bad.

The business follows COVID-19 guidelines, such as everyone has to wear a mask when entering.

The Three Rivers Brewery restaurant reopened after being closed during the pandemic.

“We’re doing everything we can to play by the rules set forth by the state,” Silva said. “But it’s sometimes very difficult because of the personal opinion of some people, because some people feel you are infringing on their rights. So we have to be very careful, we don’t want to get into confrontation because we have to play by the rules.”

The brewery is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


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