At Wayfinder Co-op, a co-working space for outdoor-oriented businesses and entrepreneurs, members can pay a little extra each month for an ownership stake in the business, which includes voting rights, profit dividends, and, starting this Friday, May 24, ownership in Otero Taproom, a beer and wine bar inside Wayfinder's space at 525 Santa Fe Drive.
Otero Taproom, named for the Otero House, a gathering spot for travelers on the historic Santa Fe Trail, is owned by the Wayfinder Co-op, but starting Friday it will be open to the public, serving wine and local and regional beers on tap and in cans. And the majority of beverages sold will have some component of support for the Colorado outdoors.
Wayfinder founders Joe Ewing, Britten Ferguson and Chris Baker launched their co-working space just over a year ago as a center for like-minded people in outdoor-inspired businesses. Ewing runs a software company geared toward adventure travel businesses, Baker has his own adventure travel company, and Ferguson leads cycling tours in destinations like Spain, Colombia and Patagonia.
When the partners initially conceived Wayfinder, they wanted it to be more than just office space. "The future of co-working is not just a place to plug in and work," says Ferguson. "It's a bunch of different things: networking, shared values, social gathering. When we first got together, we thought we'd get a shared office, a dog and maybe a keg — and things just kind of escalated."
That's how the idea of adding a bar to Wayfinder came about; selling beer and wine to the public was a way to earn extra money for the co-op while adding a social element that would attract guests who might also eventually join Wayfinder. Membership in the co-op seemed a little abstract to some of Wayfinder's participants, Ewing explains. "So we said, 'Tell your friend you own a piece of this bar!' That turned the light on for more people."
And in addition to bar ownership, Wayfinder co-op members can make extra money pouring beer and wine.
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When looking for brands for Otero's tap handles, the partners considered breweries' support of issues such as public land and wildlife conservation, sustainability and water usage. Good River Beer was their first choice because the company donates 2 percent of its gross revenue to river conservation, and 14er Brewing and Upslope were chosen for their support of trail-maintenance organizations and Trout Unlimited, respectively. Otero also pours beer and cider from Intrepid Sojourner, New Terrain and Stem Ciders, with others that will soon be added to the rotation. "We want to get other breweries in on initiatives, too," Ewng notes, by contracting beers just for Otero, with a portion of sales going to select nonprofits.
He also says that the wine list will be focused on environmentally friendly wineries in Colorado and beyond, adding, "They won't necessarily be local, but we'd love to have people catch wind that we're actively looking."
Beers will be poured by the glass and pitcher, with a half-price special on pints from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and a daily "dirtbag special" — a 16-ounce can of Montucky Cold Snacks (a Montana brewery that pledges 8 percent of its profits to local causes) for $3.
Otero Taproom opens to the public at 4 p.m. Friday, with a grand-opening party running from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be bluegrass music from the Rampart Rangers, a patio launch (weather permitting) and plenty of beer, wine, cider and kombucha. See Wayfinder's website for more details and membership options.