By Pamela Dozois
The historic 1920s property on the corner of St. Joseph and Bell Streets in Los Alamos sat vacant for months, waiting for someone with vision to rescue it. Weeds grew waist high.
Meanwhile three couples, close friends, were looking for a project they could work on together. Cory and Lauren O’Keefe from Arroyo Grande and George and April Garcia from San Luis Obispo had frequented the restaurants and tasting rooms in Los Alamos and noticed the piece of property was for sale. They called their friends Alana and Kristopher Stipech, who live in New York, and asked them to come for a visit and check out the property.
“There were weeds and dirt everywhere,” Alana Stipech said. “My husband immediately said ‘no’ when he saw the place, but my reaction was just the opposite. I thought it was perfect.”
The group saw the potential and decided to go into this new venture together. Bodega, a wine bar and beer garden, opened in late June at 273 Bell St.
“We have a shared passion for hospitality and really good food and wine, so we decided to create a space for people to enjoy these things,” Stipech said. “We love the Spanish influence in Los Alamos, and the name Bodega just seemed to fit into what we were planning on doing.”
“We did all the landscaping, added a bocce ball court, the fire pit, an outdoor bar and decided to turn the little front structure into a retail shop to share some of our favorite products,” she said. “Some of what we carry is local, some from Nashville and some from New York, cities we have a tie to. Most are handmade, which we purchase directly from the artists,” she added.
Bodega’s focus is on biodynamic and organic wines, craft beer, and curated shop goods. They brew their own IPA draft beer in San Luis Obispo, which they have on tap, along with a wide variety of beers that include interesting sour beers. Some of the wines they carry are local and some are international.
“We have a little guest house on the property that we have turned into a bed and breakfast guest house. It is a charming little 2-bedroom, 1-bath with a private patio so guests can come and stay for the weekend,” Stipech said.
A little greenhouse on the property contains a variety of plants and pottery for guests to choose from. Besides beer and wine, visitors can also purchase ice cream from Negranti Creamery in Paso Robles.
The group plans in the near future to host events and have live music on stage.
“We offer a light menu, such as sandwiches, salads, and a cheeseboard, all prepared locally,” Lauren O’Keefe said. “We also rent out the Bodega for weddings and private parties, which can include the guest house.”
“We’ve really enjoyed welcoming our locals and having regulars starting to come in from time to time, along with visitors from Los Angeles and beyond,” O’Keefe added.
Bodega at 273 Bell St. in Los Alamos is open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. For more information, call 323-790-4194 or visit bodegalosalamos.com.