Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill will close by summer 2023

Last year was a great one for Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill, according to co-owner Tony Simmons. The brewpub recovered “surprisingly well” from hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured everyone on staff made a decent living, he said.

But visitors currently seeking to try the restaurant’s famous wild salmon fish and chips can’t since the restaurant closed on Feb. 12. And the brewery, located in an adjacent building, has closed its taproom indefinitely and is only distributing a fraction of the couple dozen beers it typically brews as Simmons courts prospective tenants and buyers for both businesses.

Come this summer, Simmons and his family are planning to move out of state, bookending his 16 years on this beer-making endeavor.

Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill is the latest in a wave of Colorado breweries to announce plans to close. Simmons, who owns the business with his wife Julie Simmons, isn’t surprised by this trend – after all, costs for raw materials and labor have substantially increased, and there’s more competition now than ever, he said. But for Simmons, it’s simply time.

“We’ve been doing this for so long and both of us want to spend more time with family,” Tony Simmons said. “I’ve seen the whole industry evolve. It’s not like been there, done that. But after 16 years, I feel very complete.”

Despite being located far from Denver, Simmons has long been an advocate for brewpubs through his work with the Colorado Brewers Guild and the Brewers Association. He often advised beer makers on how to integrate food into their business model as taprooms became increasingly popular.

For the first several years after it opened, Pagosa Brewing Co. & Grill stationed a food “wagon,” as Simmons calls it, on its patio. But operating an outdoor kitchen during the winters in Pagosa Springs proved a challenge, so when they got the chance, the Simmons purchased a 7,000-square-foot building next door and opened a restaurant.

The aforementioned fish and chips earned nods from The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, which called it “the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.” Over the years, the beer, too, has earned accolades, including a gold medal (2013) and two silver medals (2010, 2014) from the Great American Beer Festival.

But after nearly two decades in business and 2.3 million pints sold, Tony and Julie Simmons are ready to slow down and retire from the restaurant industry. This summer, they plan to move to California’s central coast where they can be near family and their 9-year-old can start middle school.

“We’ve been very successful and it’s time to do something else,” Tony Simmons said.

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