Ken Carson

Albuquerque, NM

PROGRAM: 2013 Emerging Leaders Albuquerque
“I think we have a really good reputation in the community because we’re not just trying to sell food to you, we’re also very strong participants in the community.”
Nexus Brewery is about beer (9 taps and counting), self-styled New Mexican soul food, and the companionship of neighbors. With this winning formula, Nexus has expanded from a brewery to a separate taproom and restaurant in just six years. In 2014, its local popularity attracted the attention of Guy Fieri, who runs a popular show on Food Network: Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.

His visit helped bring attention to the brewery, whose sales have grown from half a million in 2013 to $2.4 million in 2016. Even with the emergence of more competition over the last few years, Nexus, with its malt-heavy beers and signature chicken waffles, grew fifteen percent in 2016 alone. Ken plans to open a smokehouse where he can bring authentic New Mexican barbeque to his devoted customers.

Seven months ago, a man approached Ken seeking a fresh start with a job at Nexus. Today, Ken is proud of the person he hired that day: “He went from dishwasher all the way to where he’s almost running a line . . . He’s got the respect of all the servers and employees and he’s done a wonderful job of turning his life around.” Ken tries to hire and work with people from Albuquerque: with the exception of the original brewer, who relocated from California, every one of Nexus’ 47 employees is from New Mexico.

Not only does Ken employ from his local community, but he finds other ways to engage with local groups: “We do a lot in the way of donations, participating with different organizations that have charities. For example, we’ll donate a dollar for every beer to the cancer society or we’ll have a beer named for them.” These examples touch on the potential small businesses have to be vehicles for change in their communities.

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