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Local farming family plans distillery, restaurant

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A local family intends to open their business in this historic warehouse in the downtown railroad district. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A local farming family wants to reopen a historic warehouse in the downtown railroad district as a distillery, restaurant and tasting site.

The Lawsons and the Pirtles of Pirtle Farms plan to operate Homestead Spirits in the warehouse, which is the name of the distillery, said Cliff Pirtle, also a state senator.

He said that his main partner is his brother-in-law, Isaiah Lawson.

In addition to running the restaurant and tasting room, they will be bottling and selling distilled spirits, which will have their own unique product names.

“All the grains we are going to use are grains that we grow on our farm,” Pirtle said, “and then the vodka will be made from lactose from our cows and from other producers in Chaves County.”

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The warehouse is owned by Roswell Trading Co. LLC, whose partners include Pirtle and Lawson and their wives, Aysia Pirtle and Keri Lawson, according to state business records. Keri Lawson, who is Cliff Pirtle’s sister, is also part of Homestead Spirits LLC, state records show.

Pirtle said that their company has owned the warehouse property for more than two years and that it has been vacant during that time.

“We wanted to locate downtown because we wanted to bring something for the people to have,” he said. “We personally want to see downtown grow, and so we thought it was important to invest in an area that needed some investing.”

Because COVID-19 conditions have affected businesses and supply chains, Pirtle said, the planned opening of the new operation has been pushed back a bit from the summer to the end of fall.

The warehouse, which is adjacent to the downtown railroad tracks, was once occupied by a grain and feed dealer. The railroad district has many historic structures that were part of the cotton trading and agricultural goods industry.

Now the area is part of a larger Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (MRA) created by the city of Roswell in 2016. As a special economic district within the city, some restoration and revitalization projects would be eligible for state funding programs, tax incentives and other financing mechanisms.

MainStreet Roswell also has plans for the area, securing a $100,000 grant in November 2019 from New Mexico MainStreet to develop designs for the Roswell Market Walk, which would be near the Homestead Spirits warehouse. That project would run from East Walnut to East Third Street and is envisioned as having a landscaped, lighted pathway and a community and events center for festivals, farmers’ markets and other activities.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.