Pueblo Vida Brewing Brings BK’s Sonoran Dogs & Local Bar Legacy Downtown

August 20, 2014

Pueblo Vida Brewing owners Kyle Jefferson and Linette Antillon.

Pueblo Vida Brewing owners Kyle Jefferson and Linette Antillon.

by James Hudson

Starting this September, Downtown Tucson will have yet another new option along the Sun Link streetcar path to enjoy home-grown craft beers, as Pueblo Vida Brewing will soon open on 115 E. Broadway Blvd., just east of Sixth Ave., in the former homes to Capoeira Brasil and TUC.

Pueblo Vida’s grand opening will also double as a celebration of BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs’ opening of a third Tucson location; BK’s will be permanent fixture in front of the locally based brewery, offering their famous Sonoran dogs, tacos, and a third, yet to be announced item. It’s all part of Pueblo Vida’s goal of marrying the neighborhood feel of an Irish pub with our community’s distinct local culture and identity, bringing an experience Downtown that is uniquely “Tucson.”

Pueblo Vida Brewing co-owners and University of Arizona graduates Kyle Jefferson and Linette Antillon are perhaps a couple of the few business owners in Tucson that may get away with lifting a portion of the city’s longtime “Old Pueblo” nickname and not inspire trails of pitchforks and torches down Broadway. In addition to the couple’s genuine passion and love for Tucson that is immediately evident in person, Jefferson’s ties to The Old Pueblo and its bar scene run deep—about as deep as they can go.

pueblov5In the early 1960s, Kyle Jefferson’s great-grandmother Ruby Wren was one of Arizona’s first female architects, and one of its few female business owners. At one point, Wren had both built and was running four bars in Tucson, the most famous being The Shelter, the iconic lounge bar which for over 50 years has been doing business under the same name on 4155 E. Grant Rd. And sorry, it’s true—the story about the Shelter’s building being initially designed to sell bomb shelters is just an urban myth perpetuated by one of the bar’s later owners

As Jefferson tells it, his “great-grandma Ruby” was quite a trail-blazer in the ultra-conservative state, thumbing her nose at the male-dominated establishment up in Phoenix with such seemingly harmless stunts as dying her hair purple or green. And while this behavior still can raise an eyebrow in 2014, in the mid-sixties, and especially among Arizona’s cowboy culture, it was considered borderline witchcraft.

Kyle Jefferson’s great-grandmother Ruby Wren at The Shelter, a bar she built and ran in 1961

Kyle Jefferson’s great-grandmother Ruby Wren at The Shelter, a bar she built and ran in 1961

Additionally, Jefferson’s grandfather Clarence Stinson was one of Tucson’s youngest World War II veterans, enlisting straight after graduation from Tucson High School. Stinson was also a constant fixture at The Fox Tucson Theatre, holding down a variety of positions through the years.

Jefferson and Antillon both understand that same independent spirit and local pride that to this day is embedded deep into the fabric of Tucson’s community, and they want to continue in that family tradition of quirky individuality. And they want to do this not just through Pueblo Vida Brewing’s overall atmosphere, but also in the craft beers that they serve. A reflection of the couple’s own individual backgrounds, the goal is for Pueblo Vida to have the “neighborhood feel of an Irish Pub” combined with the rich Latin culture of Tucson’s everyday life.

Initially, Pueblo Vida will keep its basic tap selection to three flagship beers: a Bavarian Hefeweizen, a Northwest IPA, and a Breakfast Stout. The Breakfast Stout will utilize an aging process with assistance from a local coffee roaster, and the oat-based brew will be served in special mugs made for Pueblo Vida by Tucson-based dinnerware legend HF Coors.

Pueblo Vida’s eventual selection of eight live taps will feature two rotating seasonal brews, and Jefferson plans to bring a larger variety of short-run specialty craft beers to Pueblo Vida. Jefferson cites his inspiration from his travels to European and Irish pubs, and an internship as an assistant brewer at Lazy Boy Brewing in Seattle.

The microbrewery is coming together, with American-made brewing equipment shipped straight from Portland.

The microbrewery is coming together, with American-made brewing equipment shipped straight from Portland.

The first of three phases of Pueblo Vida are scheduled to be ready in mid-September (an opening date of August 29th was pushed back after brewing equipment delays and a custom-made garage-window shattered en route). This phase is the most basic, featuring seating for up to 51 patrons, with a bar along the windows facing Broadway in the former TUC space that Pueblo Vida originally secured, allowing additional seating during busier times. When the stars aligned and the former Capoeira Brasil spot next door recently became available, Jefferson and Antillon jumped at the chance to expand Pueblo Vida before it had even opened.

A BK’s cart will be set up immediately on opening day, but what Jefferson calls an Urban Beer Garden will eventually extend Pueblo Vida’s bar up to six feet from the door, with shade provided from greenery set up above. The third and final phase in the former Capoeira Brasil space is envisioned to allow for semi-acoustic live music up front and a private room in the back for meetings.

Pueblo Vida will be located at 115 E. Broadway Blvd. For updates on Pueblo Vida Brewing’s progress and details about the forthcoming grand opening in September, follow the Pueblo Vida Facebook page and Twitter account.