After more than 18 years as a Grant County institution, A.I.R. Coffee will be closing its doors on April 30. Louis Baum, who has owned the coffee roaster and coffeehouse in Bayard for the past six years, will hold a closing sale of equipment, furniture, artwork and more on April 20-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. After six months of trying to sell the business or find a partner, Baum says the economy dictates that it close.
Originally a key part of downtown Silver City's Yankie Street revitalization, A.I.R. — short for "artist in residence" — was founded by Jacqueline Shaw, an escapee from the corporate rat race in coffee-crazed Seattle. It opened its doors on Halloween 1993 in the partitioned-off six front feet of Shaw's place on Yankie Street. The "coffee bar" moved down the street to 112 W. Yankie St. two and a half years later.
In our story on A.I.R.'s 10th anniversary in October 2003, we recorded some of what it meant to the town: "Still, something was happening in Silver City — and Shaw's espresso machine was at the center of it. Newsweek ran a story on ‘cappuccino vs. cowboys, the new war for the Old West,' which opened and closed with A.I.R. Coffee, where the reporter had set up headquarters. Sen. Jeff Bingaman stopped into the coffeehouse one day. ‘He couldn't believe his old cowtown had a serious espresso bar,' Shaw says. He mentioned it to a reporter at the Washington Post, which ran another story, which in turn got picked up across the country on the wire services. The New York Times wrote up Silver City, with a big photo of A.I.R. Coffee."
Shaw sold the locally beloved coffeehouse in 2005 and it briefly operated as Dos Baristas before being sold again and rechristened Yankie Creek Coffee House, which continues in business at its long-time downtown location.
But Shaw retained the roastery in Bayard, which she'd started in 2001, and the A.I.R. name. Baum bought the Bayard operation and the A.I.R. name in 2006, adding a coffeehouse to the wholesale coffee business. 208 Central Ave., 537-3967.
The folks at Bear Mountain Lodge want you to spend Easter with them. The lodge's Café Oso Azul is planning a special Easter menu, April 8, by reservation only. Entrées will include crab cakes, lemon-pepper-roasted ham, chicken in a white-wine mustard sauce and white vegetarian lasagna. 60 Bear Mountain Road, Silver City, 538-2538, www.bearmountainlodge.com.
Shevek & Co. in downtown Silver City is now pouring something called "scrumpy," which turns out to be a British term for artisanal hard ciders. You can get a sample, along with wines and beers new on the menu, for $5 for five tastings on First Friday, April 6. 602 N. Bullard St., 534-9168, silver-eats.com.