The Reagan opens as El Paso’s Latest Leisure Venue

El Paso’s newest venue – The Reagan – opens its doors to the public on Friday June 18.

Co-owners and newlyweds Kassi Foster-Nava and Alejandro Nava announced the grand opening of The Reagan at 313 East Mills Avenue on Friday morning.

The spot has been fascinating hotel guests and business people in the city center for over a year.

“It feels great to be part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown El Paso. We’ve found a home for our business model and a place where we can share our love of music and our eclectic style with the community, ”said Foster-Nava, who previously owned Golden Bones, a retail boutique in Austin.

“The Reagan really picks up where Kassi left off with Golden Bones, but that’s really an El Paso thing,” added Nava. “The combination of the powers of entertainment unprecedented in El Paso, incredible cocktails and a delicious menu has resulted in what we call a cabinet of curiosity.”

Venue officials say the Reagan is 6,300 square feet, which includes an upstairs lounge and a basement that serves as an extension to the backyard services.

The conception, the renovation of the original ceilings and wall treatments, a complete overhaul of the underground rooms and the new building took over two years.

“Noteworthy is a hidden tunnel that was discovered during the construction process and diverted into a wine cellar and converted,” add the officials at the venue.

The Nava’s took pride in hiring a fully local team of subcontractors and currently have 40 employees.

The visual curiosities at The Reagan are huge, but not limited to a Zoltar machine from the movie “Big” starring Tom Hanks, a retrofitted jukebox full of selections from the 70s and 80s, and neon signs designed by Foster-Nava. Andy Warhol can be found on the walls of the men’s room and attention-grabbing Gucci cats adorn the women’s room. Yolanda

Baker, the famous disco ball maker for Studio 54, was hired to create a signature piece for The Reagan. Skulls, snakes, angels and animal prints are woven into the scene wherever possible.

The upper floor is known as the “tarot” and is for those who want to get away from the crowd or enjoy a VIP get-together. It has an underground feel, but it sits on top of the Reagan and gives guests a glimpse of the entertainment spectacle downstairs.

The Reagan is a bit of a chameleon as the experience one will have varies depending on the day of the week. They plan on hosting themed parties like 80’s Goth Rock Night and Taco Tuesdays to cater to all kinds of music lovers and crowds. Finally, wine dinners and Sunday brunch are offered to showcase the culinary expertise of the staff.

“Red carpet-style events with a mix of guests from punk rockers to Elvira doppelgangers are definitely an option,” says Nava. “And of course we hope that the DJ booth will attract guest talents such as Justin Strauss, Eli escobar, and Peanut Butter Wolf. “

The Nava’s on their leadership team at The Reagan are supported by longtime friends, Chef Hector Saenz, Food and Beverage Director, and mixologist Cesar Perez, Cocktail Director.

Saenz will ensure a solid gastro-pub menu that will be served on branded tableware from the collection edition, ranging from small plates to wooden boards.

As more and more people are returning to their offices in the city center, Saenz is looking forward to offering an extended lunch menu to those who want to “escape” the working day. “The food that comes out of the kitchen complements the high presentation concept at the bar with bartenders who pour and create cocktails,” says Saenz.

Perez joins The Reagan from Velvet Elvis and holds multiple titles in the competitive bartending world. He is considered one of the Top 50 in the world class of the United States Bartender’s Guild.

At The Reagan, he manages over 250 notable bottles of rare and curated spirits, as well as premium ages and a “hard-to-find” beer selection. His focus is on the preparation and he uses the “crust program”, which closes the cycle between kitchen and bar and creates so little waste.

“In our mixology laboratory, we apply culinary concentration. Centrifuged oil infusion is a common practice. Syrups are injected with a local flavor, and we often use clay-aged water in our bar batches. The Reagan puts spirits on a pedestal, ”says Perez.

“From designing the space to cultivating the spirits, we have more fun than work,” says Nava of the couple’s efforts to bring The Reagan to life. “It’s pure and punk and romantic at the same time.”

The rest of June, The Reagan is open Thursday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., with gastropub offerings from the kitchen until 10:00 p.m. An online shop for The Reagan items will soon open.

For more information, see The Reagan on-line or on Instagram.

Reagan Nationwide College, ITT Tech accreditor might lose federal cash

A year after a USA Today Network investigation found that an accredited university in South Dakota appeared to have no students or staff, a federal panel voted to remove the federal accreditation council for independent colleges and schools on Friday.

That recommendation could spell the end of the road for the troubled accreditor who previously made headlines for its role in accrediting ITT Tech and Corinthian colleges, two massive for-profit colleges that closed without much warning in the mid-2010s.

Accreditors operate independently from the federal government, but their approval by the Department of Education enables them to decide which colleges can access federal funds, including student loans or Pell Grants. The decision, taken by an 11-1 vote, was made after hours of discussion and review of hundreds of pages of documents verifying the accreditation or lack of colleges by the accrediter.

A senior department official will now make the final call about the future of ACICS and the agency may continue to appeal the decision. However, if the agency loses its accreditation powers, the nearly 60 ACICS-accredited institutes would have to find a new accreditor if they want to continue to access federal funds.

The review from Thursday was partly from USA TODAY investigation in February 2020 Reagan National University found that seemed to have no students or faculty. Important links on the website, like one signing up for courses, didn’t work either. And a reporter visited the campus twice and found no one there.

Only a few days before the planned publication of the story, the university withdrew from the accreditation process. ACICS announced TODAY to USA that it correctly followed its procedures. But history has also led to it open the education department his own request.

The Reagan Inquiry, however, was just one of several topics the committee considered Thursday. Various reviews looked at the agency’s financial health, dealings with two other universities, and general compliance reports. And of the four reports considered, all of which began under President Trump, in all of the cases, career officials at the Department of Education suggested that the agency lose its federal accreditor status.

The hour-long hearing of the advisory committee was just the last stop for the long-troubled accreditation body.

In 2016, the Obama-era Department of Education relocated to take power away from the agency. A federal court reopened the matter, however, and the Trump department re-established the agency in 2018.

In a recent report, the Inspector General of the Department found that the division was acting within its authority when reintroducing ACICS under DeVos. It also noted that the department failed to take into account “all relevant information” when reviewing the agency in 2016. That decision, according to the surveillance report, enabled ACICS to successfully challenge the division’s findings in court.

The Inspector General’s report ignored the findings of the other reports submitted to the committee on Thursday. Still, the panel delayed its decision from Thursday to Friday to give its members the opportunity to read the results.

Earlier this year Careers in the department recommended ACICS lose their authorization for accreditation because, among other things, they could not prove that they “have competent and knowledgeable persons who are qualified through training and experience”.

In the advisory session, the department made this case. (Much of the discussion centered around Reagan National University.)

For example, ACICS staff were visiting Reagan National University and were unable to “get, view, or rate teaching materials,” and students had no access to textbooks. However, according to Elizabeth Daggett, a career worker on the department’s accreditation group, the shortage of materials was not listed as a shortage. Daggett said this resulted in a lack of training and administration skills.

In another case, Daggett said the accreditor did not collect enough responses from students during his visits to Reagan. Only 6 of the 50 or so students answered a survey distributed by the accreditation team in 2017. And only 3 of the roughly 70 responded to another survey from 2019. However, ACICS said this was not a problem.

“The team ensures the polls are distributed, but cannot force students to respond,” they wrote in response. “The department doesn’t require agencies to use student surveys, and ACICS doesn’t set a minimum number of surveys that must be returned.”

There were other signs of problems with the students as well. During the course of the two reviews, no students had any problems with their studies or had withdrawn from university. Students also did not have verified records of previous education. Daggett said all of these findings should have been “red flags that question the existence of a legitimate student population.”

In a broader sense, Daggett said ACICS had had several years to align with the department’s standards and never did.

For his part, ACICS is called the overall pre-review department results “extremely drained and frustrating” and that this would call the recommendation into question.

Michelle Edwards, the President and CEO of ACICS, also said in her opening speech that the agency is subject to unfair standards. And she mentioned the Inspector General’s report as evidence of her claim.

Edwards has repeatedly said that the Department of Education’s review has exceeded its limits. In the case of Reagan in particular, she made two separate site visits to prove that the agency was doing its job.

“I ask you to conclude that the evidence presented by the department staff in their final report does not support the approval of the termination,” said Edwards.

Claude Presnell, committee member and president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, asked if the accreditor had conducted its site visits thoroughly. In particular, he asked how the agency could visit Reagan National University in late 2019 without seeing any signs that it would close just months later.

“An abrupt closure of an institution, don’t you think that speaks in favor of your ability as an accreditor?” Asked Presnell.

In response, Edwards said the college had voluntarily withdrawn from the accreditation process and the agency had no way of knowing that Reagan was closing. During the meeting, she also said that ACICS employees found evidence of a “functioning institution” during a site visit in October 2019. Edwards couldn’t say why the college closed just months later.

Edwards had also repeatedly tried to dismiss USA TODAY’s coverage as sensational, although it did not provide any details. Presnell said the agency’s findings were consistent with findings from USA TODAY’s initial investigation.

Ultimately, the members of the committee voted 11 to 1 in order to withdraw the agency’s recognition by the federal government. Some of the members said they voted yes but were concerned about the administrative processes used by the department. The same members hoped that the rigor applied to ACICS would also be applied to other accreditors in the private and public sectors.

While the committee has recommended that ACICS lose its recognition, there are other bureaucratic hurdles to overcome. A senior department official now has 90 days to consider the decision. And if that person decides to revoke the creditor’s reputation, ACICS could continue to appeal to the newly confirmed Minister of Education. Miguel Cardona. If ACICS loses state recognition, the dozen of schools it currently accredits will have 18 months to find a new accreditor.