Larami and Ryan Sandlin went to Northern Arizona University in 2002, and after graduation, the Prescott natives decided to stick around. Flagstaff, Larami says, had become their home. About a decade later, they opened Dark Sky Brewing Co. at the corner of Beaver Street and Birch Avenue.
“Our initial goal was to be a small ‘coffee shop’ brewery and serve six pints an hour,” Larami says. “In our first two weeks, we sold out all our beer and had to close for two weeks to replenish.” Since then, Dark Sky has continued its upward trajectory.
In 2019, the Sandlins built a kitchen and partnered with Pizzicletta to serve Caleb Schiff’s signature pies at Dark Sky. Then, in 2020, they realized a neighboring historic building, constructed in 1963 as the City Hall Texaco, was available.
“We’d been eyeing the building with dreams and ideas for a few years but never thought it was a possibility,” Larami recalls. The Sandlins sent a letter of intent to the building owner, then worked with the city for about eight months to put together plans and permits for Dark Sky’s beer garden and its restaurant, Atmosphere Kitchen. They also applied for and received a business retention grant, which Larami says helped them “be able to put in place our ideas of beautifying our historic downtown corner.”
The Sandlins partnered with a longtime friend, chef Joe Rodger, to create a menu focused on elevated “pub grub,” with an emphasis on shareable, Basque-style pinxtos, or finger foods. The result is inspired — and sustainable. An elote skillet that features baked corn with lime, cotija cheese and Tajin is served with warm tortilla chips, while beef skewers,
a fried chicken board, oysters on the half shell and a slew of snacks (think cheese curds, patatas bravas and a pretzel board) add variety that complements Dark Sky’s beer selection.
But the couple’s favorite menu component takes the long way back to Flagstaff: Spent grain from the brewery is fed to cattle on a ranch in Camp Verde, and the resulting beef becomes steak skewers, chopped cheese or even full steaks. “The distinctive taste of the spent grain comes through in the beef in such a flavorful way,” Larami says.
Although great beer and food are the hallmarks of Dark Sky and Atmosphere Kitchen, the Sandlins are also heavily invested in their adopted home: Their nonprofit, Dark Sky Community, was founded in 2022 and supports local causes. “Those causes include animals and kids, with an emphasis on providing art and school lunches,” Larami says. To date, the nonprofit has raised more than $300,000 to support High Country Humane, Mountain Girl Rescue, the Flagstaff Biking Organization, AZ Brain Food and the Samfund grant program, among other groups.
Atmosphere Kitchen at Dark Sky Brewing Co.
117 N. Beaver Street