By Jim Fink
The owners of a fledgling but popular vodka distillery have received a key approval from the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals, and are one step closer to opening in downtown Buffalo.
Lockhouse Distillery next needs state and federal regulatory approval before the company can move into its new manufacturing home — the former Nicholson & Hall Corp. warehouse on Columbia Street. The 25,426-square-foot building, owned by Ellicott Development Co., is nestled between First Niagara Center and the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
“We have a signed lease with them,” said William Paladino, Ellicott Development president and CEO. “Everything is good to go.”
Pending the regulatory okay, Lockhouse Distillery could be in its new location by later this year.
Lockhouse debuted last November and has quickly become a high-demand product among bars and restaurants. That has spurred the manufacturer to seek a larger production area than it currently operates on Great Arrow Drive in Buffalo.
“We’ve sold every ounce we’ve made,” said Tom Jablonski, a Lockhouse founder and partner..
Lockhouse is producing as many as 200 bottles of vodka weekly. The 750 ml. bottles retail for $35.
The move could allow Lockhouse to increase its production output by at least 10 percent.
It would also be more customer-friendly as plans call for the development of a Lockhouse retail store and tasting room on the premises.
Lockhouse is the first state-licensed distillery to open in Buffalo since the Prohibition era. It is only one of 30 licensed distilleries in New York state, although Black Squirrel Distillery is hoping to start producing bottles of rye when it starts operations later this year. Black Squirrel hopes to open on Elmwood Avenue not far from SUNY Buffalo State.
Once the company moves, Lockhouse hopes to also start making whiskey, gin and amaro — although those are part of a longer term business growth and expansion plan.
Whiskey will be the first of the new products.
Besides Jablonski, his other partners are: Niko Georgiadias, Chad Voessler and Jon Mirro.