After 12 years of brewing, Armadillo Ale Works announced it was closing Sunday, March 27. While the decision may not be permanent, Denton locals have vocalized their shock at the closing of the Denton establishment.
“It was tough,” said David Baker, former employee and co-founder of Denton Makers Market. “Everyone was really happy to be there and we had a lot of people that were really sad [Armadillo was] going away […] it felt like being at a funeral for a loved one.”
In a Facebook post, Armadillo Ale Works attributed its closing to poor sales driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and forced shutdowns of alcohol-related businesses from March 2020 to March 2021. While the closure may not be indefinite, the future of Armadillo Brewing Company is unclear, according to the post.
“I don’t think it [has] set in, honestly,” said Lincoln Tate Ripley, university alumnus and former employee, about Armadillo closing.
Baker said while most service industry jobs were struggling to staff, Armadillo was different and never had a staffing issue.
“It was a great sense of community,” Baker said. “It was a cool space [and] the people that worked there wanted to be there.”
The impact of Armadillo goes beyond brewing beer and coffee, according to community members. Chelsea Osborn, university alumna, 31, held her wedding at the brewery. Osborn was introduced to Armadillo when she was a junior at the university. While in a class for brand management, Osborn had to create a brand strategy for a business which happened to be Armadillo Ale Works.
Once Osborn began to think about seriously planning a wedding, she said she dreamed of getting married in a brewery and later chose Armadillo as her venue. Osborn said it will be sad this year when she and her husband are not able to celebrate their marriage at Armadillo.
“Armadillo Ale Works as a whole has always had a special place in my heart for being the brewery that started and sparked my interest in craft beer,” Osborn said. “[…] I’m hopeful they’ll be able to find their footing somewhere else and this will be a brief hiatus and not a forever goodbye.”
Osborn said when looking for breweries to partner with for her and her husband’s sports bar in Garland, Armadillo was one of the vendors that communicated with them the most and always wanted to see what their business needed.
“[Armadillo] did a really good job of fostering authentic relationships, rather than just push a sale,” Osborn said.
Blind Fox is another business that benefited from Armadillo Ale Works. Keith Abate, co-owner of food truck Blind Fox, 32, said Armadillo has been their truck’s home base in Denton. Abate said Armadillo let Blind Fox park their trailer for free, use their electricity and did not charge them any fees.
“They were kind enough to have their space and [view it] more as a partnership — it’s good for them and good for us, rather than dollar signs,” Abate said.
Armadillo Ale Works was more than a taproom in Denton, often holding events for the music and art scene. Denton Makers Market, a market and festival for local Denton artists and creatives, was held at Armadillo on the first Monday of each month. Baker said Armadillo was one of the best spaces in Denton to host events as it was affordable and one of the largest spaces groups could rent.
“Denton’s really going to be hurting after this,” Baker said. “I know there are a lot of really amazing event spaces, but we lost a really, really great one.”
Music was another community in Denton supported by Armadillo. James Dolly, lead singer of ¿Everything is Temporary? and organizer of concert series Punks and Painter, said Armadillo was a great music venue in Denton because they were not 21 and up, allowing younger bands and fans to attend shows. Dolly said in the six years he has lived in Denton, he has experienced several music venues close, including The Abbey Underground and Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor and Chainsaw Repair.
“It’s a struggle to stay around in this town,” Dolly said.
Dolly said one reason for these venues shutting down is Denton’s noise ordinance, which he has started a petition to change. In the city of Denton, noise from an amplifier, music instrument or sound-amplifying equipment cannot exceed 65 decibels, according to Article II of the city’s Code of Ordinances. Dolly said this hurts venues that are not able to hold concerts and events, resulting in a loss of revenue.
“That’s what I want to do […] section off entertainment districts and [change] the sound ordinance within them, so we can keep businesses like [Armadillo] alive,” Dolly said.
Despite Armadillo’s taproom being closed, Dolly said Denton can still support Armadillo Ale Works.
“They’re closed, you know, it sucks,” Dolly said, “At the same time, their beers are still out there on the shelves at a lot of places. Go out and buy them if you can [and] show the support that you can.”
Featured Image: The logo for Armadillo Ale Works on the door of the building on March 29, 2022. Photo by John Anderson