State Gives ‘All Clear’ for Brewpub’s Open Air Dining

Pajarito Brewpub and Grill co-owner Patrick Mockler-Wood stands beneath the new air curtain installed between the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room to satisfy state inspectors. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

 

By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
 
Just in time for nice weather, the state has granted approval to the Pajarito Brewpub and Grill to once again offer open air dining to its patrons. Co-owner Patrick Mockler-Wood told the Los Alamos Daily Post that the New Mexico Environment Department has given his restaurant the green light to reopen the large garage style door to the outside dining area.

Pajarito Brewpub outdoor dining. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Last August, NMED issued warnings to the Pajarito Brewpub and Grill as well as the former Dixie Girl Restaurant in downtown Los Alamos for having open windows while serving diners.

“The solution we worked out last week was to install an air curtain between our kitchen and dining room, which keeps outside air from entering the area where food is prepared,” Mockler-Wood said.

Air curtains are designed to create comfortable environments, provide insect control and prevent heating and air conditioning from escaping through open doors when applied in food service settings, he said.

The Dixie Girl Restaurant and its predecessor, Central Avenue Grill, in downtown Los Alamos had been operating with four garage doors open in nice weather for 15 years – so it came as quite a surprise the day the inspector issued the closed window order late last summer.

Mockler-Wood and his three partners opened the Pajarito Brewpub in November 2012 at 614 Trinity Dr. They had submitted their restaurant drawings and plans to NMED for approval and an inspector physically visited the eatery and even walked out through the open garage door and stood in the outside eating area before granting approval, Mockler-Wood said.

Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard stepped in when she heard about the inspector issuing the warnings to Los Alamos eateries last summer and called the Cabinet Secretary of the NMED to protest. She encouraged him to take a look at the issue and find a suitable solution to allow local restaurants the option to offer open air dining.

The impetus behind the statewide law is to protect against the entry of animals, birds, insects and rodents into eating establishments. According to New Mexico Regulations and Statutes, from which the department derives its authority to regulate food service and processing (revised Jan. 1, 2010) Doors and Windows, states in part, “All openings to the outer air shall be effectively protected against the entrance of animals, birds, insects and rodents. Proposed protective measures shall be submitted in writing to the Health Authority for approval.”

The newly installed air curtain is a solution that satisfies the state inspectors.

“We’re just so glad this issue has been resolved so our customers can enjoy the nice weather while dining with us here,” Mockler Wood said.

LOS ALAMOS

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