Meeting Place

A family shares its passion


In the Arenas Valley, right between Silver City and the Grant County mining district towns, a new place has bloomed at 11786 U.S. Highway 180.
“Zócalo designates a plaza or meeting place in Spanish,” said Melanie Zipin, one of the creators of Whiskey Creek Zócalo. “You see a lot of them in Mexico and Spain. We picked it because we have so many aspects going on and we want it to be a meeting place for food, drinks, music, camaraderie, community, creativity, natural building, gardening, workshops and more.”
Now, this meeting place is welcoming visitors who love music, open in April for several concerts, then more regularly as a restaurant as the summer comes in.
Melanie, her son, Rafael Zipin, and her husband, Jeff LeBlanc, have been working for a couple of years to come to this point. Renovated from an old schoolhouse, the family has put its creativity to work with their labor and life’s assets to offer this zócalo to the community.
“We are all artists and musicians,” Melanie said. “The three of us are doing this project together. It’s just us working on everything.”
Community hands have contributed artistry, and help. For example, the sound buffers on the ceiling were donated by a friend with a strong belief in the mission of the place, and another friend built some beautiful big doors that open behind the main performance space and an outdoor venue that is part of the next step.
“It’s been a fun project because we get to see the transformation,” Melanie said.
The stage is prominent and has the latest technology available because the family wants music to be the focus of the place.
“We intend to have more intentional music, instead of background music for people who want to talk,” she said. “We really want to have a place where you can come to see the music that’s the focus, to have a place about the music rather than let’s go eat and drink where there is some music in the background.”
With the family members coming from experience in the service industry, Melanie said that is what they know and are incorporating into their plans.
“This is a passion project for us,” she said. “We love the service industry, but we also love music and musicians.”
Positioned between the mining district and Silver City, part of their mission is to be a bridge between communities, Melanie said.
“We are not trying to be just a restaurant, we want a place for community,” she said.
The venue will initially serve beer and wine with tapas. Jeff is building a horno outside for woodfire pizza. Eventually they will get a crafters license for alcohol as well, Jeff said.
“With the crafter’s license, we can start with local spirits as well,” he said. “We will try and focus on serving some vermouth. That’s something we enjoy but you don’t see a lot.”
“We haven’t done anything in a traditional way,” Melanie said.
Music offerings include a variety starting April 1 with Stockdale and A.seb. The cover is $10. Jono Manson brings his record release tour to the venue April 8 and the show is free. The big one, Rafael said, is True Widow and People on April 14, cover $15. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 for all the events.
“We are creating a venue for everyone,” he said.
Melanie sees the concept of Whiskey Creek Zócalo’s as multi-faceted.
“We are really trying to create a space in the community that we love and have been a part of for a long time,” she said.
The nursery part of the business opens Thursday, April 20.
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