3 Questions

3 Questions With Honeymoon Brewery Co-Founder Ayla Bystrom-Williams

Honeymoon Brewery (907 W Alameda St., Unit B, (505) 303-3139) has always supported Santa Fe musicians while serving up some of our fair city’s finest hard kombuchas and local beers. Then came the pandemic (blah, blah, blah, we’re all sick of hearing about that part) and major changes for how all food and drink businesses stayed open. According to Honeymoon co-founder Ayla Bystrom-Williams, though, learning the value of solid outdoor and indoor/outdoor seating has changed the game, and that’s why she and others from the brewery plan to build a new removable structure for making the great outdoors feel a little nicer—while creating a better place for performers to do their thing. We caught up with Williams to learn how she plans to make that happen, and it all starts with a benefit event on Friday, Dec. 9 (6 pm, free) with acts like The Spiraling Buds and Steve Rydeen—plus a $5 raffle for exciting prizes such as a $75 Paper Dosa dinner. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

OK. Hit me—what’s going down at Honeymoon?

We recently started working with [bartender] Kyle Perkins, and he’s been doing all the music at Honeymoon. I met Kyle about six years ago when he was busking in front of the co-op; when Honeymoon first opened, he started playing regular shows here. After the pandemic, we hired him, and he has a really interesting connection to musicians in town and a vision that is really cool. After he started bartending at Honeymoon, he wanted to help getting the music scene going again, because things haven’t gotten back to normal since COVID—understandably so. But we’ve been doing music here and, he was like, ‘I think we should do a fundraiser, not only to help Honeymoon, but that supports the small music scene.’ We know one of the points for musicians, especially after COVID, is to not have a lot of places where they can consistently feel comfortable playing. Musicians do a good job creating the community they need, but we’re trying to give them something extra...a little sugar, a little sweetener.

We all learned after COVID that you’ve gotta have patio game, and I think the entire world benefitted from having more indoor/outdoor spaces. We combined the vision for Honeymoon’s needs and to create something special for musicians.

Does this mean we’ll see more events?

I don’t know about more, but with Kyle’s energy and connections, we’re looking to do more consistent things, and definitely that are more thought through. Special stuff. But as we change with the seasons we’re filling out what’s going on. It’s kind of a combination of what people are looking to see when it comes to live music, and what do they need to do that? What do musicians need? We’re a small space so it’s crazy we even have music at all. We really started the music thing when Raashan [Ahmad] did the first Love & Happiness [DJ] thing. That was so organic, so after that, we couldn’t stop, even if we were telling people, ‘You know we’re small?’

We’re building a space that’s more like a greenhouse. It’s going to not be a permanent structure, but we’re going to make it conducive for people to sit out there and perform out there. We’re just trying to fill a void with a space that’s comfortable and that feels like outside, but has electricity and heat. It’s stuff I see in other cities, for sure. When we had musicians want to play here after COVID, 90% wanted to be outside, but if the weather changes it’s...hard for DJs to perform when it’s windy, or stringed players to play when it’s cold.

Are you hoping anyone can get involved?

Yeah, definitely. I think that there’s a lot of gray area in terms of how the space can be used. We’re curious to see if people want to use the space as they need, be it an event, a performer, an album release party. It’s super-small, and I think everyone knows we’re small, but we’re trying to make it as functional and useful as possible.

I learned from my days of going to shows in Seattle that sometimes small can be an advantage in terms of building the right kind of vibe. This is why we continue to do music here. Kyle also spent time in Seattle, so we both have this appreciation for, ‘Let’s have this little space, make it vibey, try to give people a really good experience for what it is.’

The benefit is to help pay for the lumber and pay [artist] Christopher Merlyn to do a mural on the [floor of the structure]. But I want to be clear that we want to keep our shows free. We’re really trying to be that kind of space where we’re accessible to everyone.

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