Downtown ABQ Cafe sports buds, beans – and finally, beer

From left, Buds & Beans owner Jonathan Joiner and general manager Lisa Taj McCellon. The couple are launching a new drinks menu on Friday after receiving their liquor license. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

When Jonathan Joiner opened his business, Buds & Beans Cafe, in March, he planned to serve beer.

Joiner “isn’t the bar type,” but he wanted to provide another kind of place for Albuquerque residents to drink, eat and relax.

“I thought about maybe creating a space where, you know, you can have someone (drinking) coffee, someone having wine, someone having CBD mocktails – just kind of something for everything the world,” Joiner said.

However, delays in obtaining a liquor license have limited Buds & Beans to serving only brews – coffee brews, that is.

But, starting Friday, Buds & Beans will launch a new menu that includes wine, beer, mimosas and specialty CBD mocktails. The cafe, located at 119 Gold SW, will also be opening new hours; For the past five months, Buds & Beans has closed at 4 p.m. But on Friday, the restaurant will be open until 8 p.m., with happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Three of the beers are from the Marble Brewery.

General manager Lisa Taj McCellon said they just received the hard copy of their liquor license on Tuesday.

“It’s just kind of an exit that we finally got,” Joiner said. “It’s as if new doors were opening. See what travel brings us.

Buds & Beans Cafe barista Sabrina Zamora makes a cold honey lavender latte. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Joiner decided to move to Albuquerque when the military veteran was driving across the country from Florida to California. He stayed in the city for only one night. But it was enough to get Joiner hooked.

“I fell in love with Albuquerque,” Joiner said. “And when I got to downtown, I had this kind of feeling that something was different from other downtowns.”

The “buds” in the name are short for “buddies,” a reflection of the sense of community that McCellon and Joiner want to create in the restaurant. The walls are lined with works by local artists, and Joiner has let artists and creators set up booths in the restaurant for free. They frequently host community events, including a silent disco – in addition to paying the DJ, all proceeds go to charity. The restaurant even includes a “take a plant, leave a plant” wall, where customers can drop plant cuttings to propagate in a new home.

The company recently received $35,000 from the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency.

An LGBTQ+ owned and operated business, inclusivity is fundamental to Buds & Beans. The menu revamp will include more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options to increase options for customers with dietary restrictions. Joiner and McCellon included mocktails so guests could order soft drinks with beer and wine.

“It’s important that there are some secondary schools in the area who can come here and sit and study and feel safe. UNM students can come here and study and feel safe no matter who they are, who they love, what they look like. It’s a big part of what we do,” McCellon said.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement