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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A.I.R. Coffee's transformation, plus a new chamber director, eateries news, Ace Hardware arrives, a newspaper dies, small business earns big laurels, and more.


Spotlight On. . .

A.I.R. Coffee Company, the successful local coffee-roasting business that Louis Baum bought last year, has been transformed into Bayard's newest gathering place.

Louis Baum in his A.I.R. Coffee coffeehouse and gallery.

"Sit right down," the energetic, silver-haired Baum invites. "You want a cup of coffee? I hope you have time for a cup of coffee!"

Baum's genuine, ready smile and welcoming banter are enough to entice even those in a hurry to take a breather. And his roastery – completely renovated into a coffeehouse – has become a place offering solace, ease and, well, a darn good cup of coffee, to boot.

Baum has worked wonders in the simple warehouse-like building, nestled in-between a Snappy Mart and the edge of a residential neighborhood. The bright red coffee-bean roaster still sits near the center of the room, enjoying a place of honor amid the homey tables and chairs. A selection of magazines and newspapers of interest to locals and those just passing through is displayed on a low table inside the door.

Burlap sacks of raw beans, emblazoned with colorful logos and their countries of origin, line the walls. This is the good stuff, the bags seem to proclaim, romancing all who love "black gold" with the symbols of their brew's exotic origins.

"Oh, I think it's the best stuff around," Baum says of his coffees–straight-up "single origins" like rich, smoky Gayoland Sumatra, earthy Ethopian Harrar and Yirgacheffe, bold, bright Costa Rican, as well as A.I.R.'s proprietary blends like Jaguar, Lioness and Kodiak.

The custom-roasted beans are packaged and sold in special one-, two- and five-pound valve bags that keep out one of coffee's natural enemies to flavor retention–ironically, air! ("A.I.R.," however, actually stands for "Artist In Residence.") Baum sells bags here at his Bayard cafe, and also continues to supply Dos Baristas Coffee Gallery in downtown Silver City (part of the A.I.R. Coffee business before it was bought by Ruth Ann Poppe, now operating as a separate entity) and a few other local accounts, including Bear Mountain Lodge, as well as Bullock's grocery store in Truth or Consequences.

Baum is looking to build on the wholesale aspect of his business, and says deals with purveyors in Deming and Lake Roberts are in the works. "I think that's going to be the way to my growth," he says. A.I.R.'s coffee also is sold both wholesale and retail through the company's Web site, www.aircoffee.biz.


In the Bayard coffeehouse, Baum serves up a couple of different high-test brews each day, along with a decaf option. There's also a selection of teas for those who–perish the thought!–don't drink coffee.

Baum sets a cup of the steaming, seductive brew on the counter and gestures toward the cream and sugar options. He points out the natural sweetener stevia, alongside the sugar-in-the-raw and traditional white stuff.

"That stevia's good stuff. Some people really prefer its taste, but you have to use less than you would of regular sugar, 'cause it's sweeter," he says. For those who really like the alternative sweetener and decide they want to use it at home, Baum also has a small display of stevia for retail sale.

To complement the java, Baum also sells perfect-for-dunking biscotti cookies, and a variety of pastries by local baker Esther Scherf–blueberry-lemon and pumpkin-walnut loaves, and Esther's famous macaroons.

And if the sweets and "joe" aren't enough to entice one to sit, perhaps the cozy, relaxed atmosphere of the place will do the trick. Baum has filled the walls with colorful works by local artists. The cafe recently had its first gallery opening, with more than 50 people in attendance.

"People just didn't want to leave," Baum says of the event, highlighted by the flute playing of local performer Michael Kunz.

Customers preferring "functional" art may want to take home a new A.I.R. coffee mug, or be drawn to the colorful assortment of potholders, hot pads and such quilted by Baum's sister-in-law, Aileen McCabe of Idaho, made exclusively for A.I.R.

"She started with these A.I.R. ones," he says, pointing to his own set of hot-mitts with the company's logo. "Then she just expanded into more and more decorative stuff." A display holds a variety of the items, decorated with regional images like cacti, hummingbirds and mountain scenes.

"I'm having a lot of fun creating it and developing it," Baum says of the cafe's atmosphere. "It's been very rewarding, and people are starting to discover what's here."

So, next time you're passing through Bayard–or if you happen to live in the neighborhood–take the turn by the Bank of America sign onto Central Avenue and drop into A.I.R. Coffee Company's new cafe and gallery. Refresh your senses and enjoy a moment with some good art and some very good coffee.

A.I.R. Roasting House and Cafe, 208 Central Ave., Bayard, 537-3967, is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon. and Wed., 7 a.m.-noon on Tues., Thurs. and Fri., and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sun., www.aircoffee.biz.


On the air

Silver City is giving a big welcome to KSIL Radio, 105.5 FM, the new station that last month began broadcasting an "Americana" mix, a contemporary brand of American folk music ranging in style from roots-based bluegrass to alternative country, Blues, zydeco and other native forms. The station has one live DJ so far and will add a syndicated show, "Cowboy Corner" (Sundays, 4-5 p.m.) to its roster this month. It already airs the programs "Southwest Stages" (Saturdays, 9 p.m.) and "Earth and Sky" (7:45 a.m. and p.m.). KSIL are the heritage call letters of Silver City's first local radio station, which broadcast for 48 years, to which owner and general manager Steve Bumpous acquired the rights. He already owned the 105.5 FM frequency, which he'd been leasing to KWNM "The Ranch"; that station abruptly went off the air when KSIL took back its spot on the dial. Bumpous says KSIL's goal is "to be a full-service local radio station," providing community calendar and public announcements (like the school closings Bumpous came in to announce himself at 5 a.m. during January's storms) and local, live DJs. Email your musical requests–and say "howdy!"–to DJ Dan at dan@ksil.com or call 388-KSIL (5745).


Coming attractions

Ace Hardware is coming to Silver City. Bob Sine, currently of Glendale, Ariz., will relocate with his wife to open their new store in the old Wal-Mart-cum-Stream building that now houses the Teleperformance call center on Hwy. 180. Sine, a third-generation store owner, currently operates an Ace Hardware in Glendale, but will leave the running of that store to his daughter-in-law. And stop those nasty rumors about the call center getting booted out of their building or leaving town! Melanie Guarino of Teleperformance confirms the company is staying put, saying, "There's plenty of space here for both businesses to share. . . . We won't even need any new construction on our side." Ace should open in its part of the 17,000-square-foot building by June.

Final edition

After 120 years of serving Hidalgo County readers, the Lordsburg Liberal newspaper will publish its last edition on Feb. 2. The closing of the Liberal, which was New Mexico's oldest weekly newspaper, leaves the Hidalgo County Herald as the county's only weekly. The Liberal has passed through a number of owners in the last 35 years of its existence: Owner Dick Rice sold the paper in 1972 to Jack Anthony Walz, a longtime employee of the Silver City Daily Press, who in turn sold his interest in the paper to Ely Publishing Co., owners of the Daily Press, in 1994. The Elys subsequently sold the paper to a young entrepreneur, Jason Watkins; under Watkins' ownership, the Liberal–by then incorporating The Independent newspaper–won awards and attention as a lively small-town weekly. But Watkins tired of the weekly grind and wanted to go on to college. Much to the Elys' surprise and dismay, in 2002 he sold the Liberal to the MediaNews Group-Gannett Inc. partnership that operates the Daily Press' rival, the Silver City Sun-News. The addition of the Lordsburg paper gave the MediaNews-Gannett group a ring of small-town papers in Southwest New Mexico that also included the Deming Headlight; the partnership also operates the Las Cruces Sun-News, El Paso Times and papers in Farmington, Alamogordo, Ruidoso and Carlsbad.

In announcing the closing of the Liberal, David McClain, regional director of the MediaNews-Gannett Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership, said, "Our goal at MediaNews Group is to publish papers of excellence in every community we serve. Our challenge in Lordsburg has been to reach this goal in a small community with two very fine local papers. We wanted to own both–" presumably, to buy the Herald from publisher/editor Brenda Greene–"and make one exceptional paper for Lordsburg. That is not possible." He added that Lordsburg native Lorenzo Alba, editor and publisher of the Liberal, will join the staff of the Silver City Sun-News.

Bazaar change

Jennifer Jutras, daughter of Shari and Luc, is the new owner of the Bullard Street Bazaar at 416 N. Bullard Street in downtown Silver City. The younger Jutras hailed from Rhode Island and New Orleans before taking the reins from Mom and Pop. An undergrad degree in Fine Arts and Photography and a master's degree in Arts Administration should enable her to find more of the creative items the store is known for. She plans to hold Grand Re-Opening Sales throughout the month of February, starting Feb. 4, featuring special items. "I want new people to come in and see what we have, and for our established customers to rediscover the store," she says.


Going, going, gone

Island Spirit Gallery, we hardly knew ye. The funky business that took over the Kitchen Gardener's spot at MainStreet Project's Silco Theater on Bullard Street has come and gone like a fleeting island breeze.

Zephyr Staffing at 106 W. College Ave. in Silver City has closed its doors. The former owner says there just wasn't enough steady business for her to keep afloat.

Jammin' Jeff's Music Academy and Studio has left its upstairs office on the corner of Yankie and Bullard in Silver City. The Jammin' One has family issues to attend to, and is spending a chunk o' time out of state, but maintains his ties to Silver City and plans to be back playing local venues in the foreseeable future.

Retailer New York & Co. in the Mesilla Valley Mall has closed its doors. Susan Palmer, marketing director for the mall, says the store's lease was up at the end of January. No word yet on what business may take its place.

While still making peace and restoring justice, the nonprofit Restorative Justice Program has closed the doors to its administrative office and conflict-resolution center on Bullard Street in Silver City. Richard Mansbach, one of the operation's mediation counselors, says, "We ran out of funding, so closed office space to save money," adding that several of the program's practitioners, for now, are working out of their homes. "We are going after funding in the legislature, which, when passed, would take effect July 1st," Mansbach says.

Zia Publishing, which produces Silver City Life and a slew of other travel and relocation-related magazines, is selling its building on Hudson Street (Hwy. 90) and will soon relocate, according to LeAnne Knudsen, project manager at Zia. "We are not going out of business and will soon relocate," Knudsen says. The building, listed with Coldwell Banker real estate for $398,000, is already under contract, according to selling agent Tracy Bauer at Prudential Silver City Properties. "It found a buyer immediately upon listing for sale, which is very unusual for a commercial building," Bauer says. She declined naming the purchaser until after closing.


Food News

Contrary to an absolute gale of flying rumors, Isaac's Bar & Grill is not for sale, according to co-owner Dale Harned. He says the Silver City lunch, dinner and night spot closed for two weeks in early January–"a slow time in town anyway"–so the owners could take a breather and staff could receive training from the restaurant's food suppliers and the state alcohol board. "No we're not closing. Far from it," Harned says, adding that during the shutdown they did a much-needed overhaul of the bar area. Isaac's opened just about six months ago in the historic Isaac Cohen building at the corner of Broadway and Bullard Street in Silver City. (See our review in the November 2006 issue.)

KFC at 2629 Hwy. 180 in Silver City is under new ownership. Deborah and Joseph Lickteig, who closed on the business late last year, have been franchisees for over 17 years and own and operate KFC restaurants in Lordsburg and in Willcox, Holbrook and Winslow in Arizona. "We've made a lot of changes and have a really great crew in there now," Deborah Lickteig says. "I want people to know it's under new ownership so they come back and try us now."

Border Foods, the Luna County-based green chile processing company that has operated in Las Cruces for over 20 years, has closed down its Las Cruces plant. Some of the more than 60 employees of that operation were able to transfer to the Deming plant, according to manager John Nocera.

The Silver City Food Co-op will open the doors to its newly remodeled warehouse at 111 E. 6th St. in downtown Silver City, with an Open House on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The warehouse represents a significant expansion for the natural and organic foods grocer.

And on the other end of the health food spectrum, the new McDonald's is open at the corner of Boutz and El Paseo Roads in Las Cruces. Mike Lavino owns all of the McDonald's locations in the city, opening his first store on El Paseo in 1972. There are six free-standing McDonald's in town and two located in the local Wal-Marts.


Health Biz

Millenium Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, 310 W. 11th St. in Silver City, has changed its name to Desert Springs Physical Therapy.

Jeanette Cruz-Poulson, a registered nurse and doctor of Oriental medicine, operating Timeless Medicine Acupuncture and Herbs at 112 W. 10th St. in Silver City, will soon offer a program, "Affordable Preventive Healthcare for Men," complementing a similar program she has been offering women. Cruz-Poulson practices traditional Chinese Medicine with a specialty in orthopedic acupuncture, as well as Japanese acupuncture. A Silver City resident for 20 years, she has worked at Gila Regional Medical Center, Fort Bayard and Border Area Mental Health Services.

And Mar Bartlett, certified hypnotherapist and licensed professional counselor, is now practicing fulltime at Rightsight Hypnosis, 2205 Casa Loma Road in Silver City. Bartlett formerly practiced in Maryland.


New to Town

Nicole Robbins has been named the new director of the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The fresh-faced Robbins moved to the area just a few months ago from Seattle. She has a background in management, and counts handling financial issues and dealing with large numbers of people among her strengths.

Blanca Turrey-Carpenter is operating Independence Manufactured Home Sales at 6068 Hwy. 152 in Hanover.

Action Equipment Rental has opened at 1415 Hwy. 180 E., Silver City, offering both rental and sales of a wide range of equipment.

Restless Natives Skate Shop has opened at 406 N. Bullard St., Suite A, in Silver City, selling all manner of gear for the boarding life.

Eric Carrasco offers auto refinishing and customization at his Thunder 1 Rod Dezigns at 3130 Hwy. 180 E., Silver City.

And. furthering a theme of "big boys' toys," Bill Lee has opened Bill's Toy Shop, an auto repair facility, at 1701 N. Swan St., Silver City.



Las Cruces-based Fine Line Designs, a company that does interior work in new home construction, has been named Star Client of the Year by Doña Ana Community College's Small Business Development Center. The owners, husband and wife team Ron and Beth Morse, will be recognized at the State Capital Feb. 7 and 8.

Steve Newby Architects and Associates picked up two awards for building design excellence from Southwest Contractor magazine, winning "Best Public Project for Under $5 Million" (the golf clubhouse at New Mexico State University) and "Best Concrete Project" (Bank of the West Plaza on Roadrunner Parkway). Newby has worked in the city for over 30 years, with offices at 1042 S. Main St. Work on one of Newby's bigger projects–the $18 million Regional Recreation and Aquatic Center–could begin early this year.

Also honored in the same magazine was ASA Architects, 201 N. Alameda Ave., which won an honorable mention in the K-12 education category for its work on the Sonoma Elementary School.

Zia Engineering & Environmental Consultants was recognized by Hispanic Trends magazine as one of the top 100 fastest-growing Hispanic-owned businesses in the country.

And the City of Las Cruces itself has been recognized, for the fifth time, by Facilities & Destinations magazine as a top destination. Readers choose the winners, based on criteria such as hotel accommodations, quality of meeting spaces, staff professionalism, services and the attractiveness of the area.


Small Business Workshops

This is your last chance to sign up for the Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) hospitality training program. Offered through the Grant County Tourism Council, the classes will take place in February and are designed to improve customer service skills of frontline personnel in lodging, food service and retail businesses. Locations for the workshop are to be determined, but will probably include the Community Center in Bayard, a hotel in Silver City and possibly one more, according to coordinator Tina Joslin. Cost is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, call 538-9664.


Business Exposure is a regular monthly column that focuses on local business from all angles. Each issue spotlights a featured Southwest New Mexico business, and updates ongoing business items of interest. Feel free to suggest business topics for the column, and let us know about your own business' changes and newsworthy events. Email donna@desertexposure.com.


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