Owner Nico Ortiz stands in the shell of the second location of Turtle Mountain Brewing Co., set to open in late February or early March of 2021. Amy Byres photo.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. owner Nico Ortiz is getting another turtle, about a 4,500-square-foot Turtle.
This is not a Guinness World Record-breaking pet but the Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. second location at the Plaza at Enchanted Hills, Ortiz announced on Facebook Aug. 21.
“It is a little counter-intuitive expanding in the middle of a pandemic, but the opportunity is there,” he said.
Turtle Mountain is moving into a new shell, or building. Since Ortiz was considering the space during its construction, the developer installed a larger garage door that opens up to a patio.
The space has a dirt floor, but Ortiz envisions the finished restaurant utilizing each space in the building to make it his own. The first third of the restaurant, closest to the windows and entrance, will be seating. In the middle section will be the bar along a wall, facing an open kitchen.
The kitchen will have a longer sauté line and a wood-fire pizza oven.
“We are going to have a bigger production line so we are going to be able to do some stuff that we can’t do over (at the Turtle Mountain off Southern),” he said. “The plan is, I would like to do breakfast Saturdays and Sundays; there is nothing in north Rio Rancho for breakfast.”
Ortiz said he is all in and is confident this second Turtle Mountain will be successful with his target demographic in Enchanted Hills.
“We have lots of people that drive down to the south side to go to the Turtle Mountain from Enchanted Hills, and they are just happy to be able to either have it be a one-minute drive to a two-minute drive.
“Some people live within walking distance, and they are just like, ‘Oh, man, this is great. I don’t have to drive all the way through Rio Rancho to get to you; I just dive two minutes down the road.’”
With Enchanted Hills expanding and once the exit off of Paseo del Volcan toward Enchanted Hills is complete, Ortiz thinks he can attract people from Northern Meadows and North Hills.
In addition, there will be a 1,400-square-foot patio, which is essential for business these days, he said.
“Obviously, patios are critical nowadays. You never know when it is going to be outside dining only again,” he said.
In 2018, Ortiz started considering a second location of the restaurant. Once he found a location and was going to sign a lease, COVID-19 hit.
He was hesitant to sign anything, given the uncertainty when restaurants will be able to operate at 100 percent capacity again.
“But the government is either giving or lending money at such ridiculously attractive terms that now is the time to expand,” he said.
Ortiz said the renting market for business owners changed in renters’ favor, making monthly rent a more reasonable amount.
“Entrepreneurs by their nature are risk-takers; they are gamblers,” he said.
Having a restaurant like Turtle Mountain will help the Enchanted Hills plaza shopping center, he said. There is a lack of restaurants in this area, and now the Turtle can contribute to generation of money in the area, Ortiz said.
“We are eager to open up and help the center get some new tenants, some new traffic and exposure,” he said. “2020 was the year of hope. We have written that off, so hopefully 2021 will now be the year of hope and we will open up and start off strong. That will be Turtle Mountain’s year.”

 

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Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer