Food

Santa Fe Restaurant Fire & Hops to Close Permanently This Weekend

Downtown gastropub to shutter following service on Sunday, Sept. 10

News (@fireandhops Instagram)

After nearly 10 years as one of Santa Fe’s most popular downtown eateries, gastropub Fire & Hops (222 N Guadalupe St., (505)954-1535) will shutter its doors following service on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“It just goes back to labor issues,” co-founder and owner Josh Johns tells SFR of his decision to close.

Fire & Hops opened in 2014 with co-founders Johns and Joel Coleman leaving behind positions at Second Street Brewery and since-closed Japanese eatery Koi respectively to fill what they described as a need for a gastropub in Santa Fe’s culinary scene.

With a healthy number of local beers on draught, a fantastically delicious Brussels sprouts dish and a consistently great burger, Fire & Hops quickly turned heads and packed in crowds.

In spring of 2022, however, Coleman sold his stake in Fire & Hops to take on his ice cream business La Lecheria full-time, with chef Austin “Gus” Emery taking over the executive chef position and Johns taking on new investors/co-owners. SFR reviewed the restaurant at the time, saying that it was “still solid” under Emery’s watch. In particular, our review praised Emery’s poutine and commitment to Asian fusion dishes first devised by Coleman.

“Right now the kitchen is very solid,” Johns says, “the front of the house is really solid, but finding people to show up, train them and then maybe they quit...we did get some stability, but Gus was going to be leaving [temporarily for a family concern] anyway, so...look, Joel and I opened Fire & Hops as a labor of love, and people would have thought we were crazy because we only had $15,000 in the bank, but we made it work—the kitchen’s small, we make everything from scratch and Gus was even filling in cooking on the line, doing dishes. This is just a tough town to make it as a restaurant.”

Fire & Hops Fire & Hops announced its imminent closure Sept. 9 on social media.

In addition to labor issues, Johns says fluctuating food costs in the wake of the pandemic were too difficult to weather while keeping prices affordable. Incoming construction on Guadalupe Street also played into the equation; Fire & Hops has never enjoyed a dedicated parking lot and, while nearby businesses let patrons park in their lots outside of business hours, it has long been a hindrance to business, according to Johns. Prior to the pandemic, he adds, the restaurant operated seven days a week, but dropped down to five following during the COVID-19 public health emergency lockdowns. Fire & Hops did receive PPP loans, Johns adds, though ramping back up to daily service never materialized again.

“There’s a chance for us to get out now,” he explains, “and I’m really proud that everyone got paid and we never bounced a check—that all the employees are going to be paid. But these small places are feeling the crunch.”

Indeed, Fire & Hops is another in a borderline alarming spate of local restaurants shutting down. Second Street Brewery, for example, closed its original location last year; Loyal Hound Pub closed just last month, citing payroll concerns and crime; and hard kombucha business HoneyMoon Brewery shuttered last June after years as a popular Casa Solana haunt and music venue.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Johns continues, “and it’s hard because we can’t increase our hours; so I expect it to be sad, and letting it wither on the vine is tough to do, but sometimes you have to make the hard decision.”

Johns says it’s possible he and his investors might open a Southside brewery down the road, but for now he’s focused on consolidating Fire & Hops and giving it the best send-off possible.

“When I open the doors and people walk in, it’s this great mix of locals and tourists,” he tells SFR. “This town has always been expensive—I came here at 19 in 1993—but we worked hard to keep our food costs down, to keep fair. We’re really going to miss being there.”

Fire & Hops remains open through this weekend.

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