Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Three Rivers Distilling Co. celebrated its third year in business on March 28, 2019.
Recently, as we were preparing for our 3rd year anniversary at Three Rivers Distilling Co., we began to reflect on our accomplishments (and some of our failures too) since we began this crazy venture in 2016.
We'll start with a current view of our distillery and restaurant and then we’ll take a look back starting on March 28, 2016, when we located the business at 224 East Wallace Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Many People Ask Us: “Why are you located here and not in the heart of downtown?”
Answer: The distillery is first and foremost a production operation and is required to be located in an industrial zone. Beyond that, we love our neighborhood and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in the city. We are two blocks south of downtown between Clinton and Lafayette Streets and one block east of the Oyster Bar on Calhoun Street.
On your current visit to the distillery, you’ll find a production building with a warehouse, a lounge area overlooking the stills on the production floor, and a restaurant with a large outdoor patio area.
The distillery didn't always look this way. When we first acquired the facility, there were two separate buildings that were constructed adjacent to one another. Fortunately, we were able to renovate the production building. However, the other building was in such disrepair that we were forced to demolish it and build new construction.
We took over the building on March 28, 2016 and started the process of removing debris and tearing down walls. We have a talented staff that are not only distillers, but also skilled at other trades, such as: construction, electrical, and painting, and drywalling. We were largely able to do most of the demolition and remodeling on the production building ourselves.
The building was originally a bakery from the 1940’s until the 1970’s. It was many things in between, but most recently it was an industrial supply warehouse before we took possession of the building.
After “Demo Day” (for all of you Chip Gaines fans), we were able to start cleaning and renovating the spaces on our production building.
Once we were able to renovate the building, we began distilling our first spirits. We started with three clear spirits: Harvester Vodka, Summit City Gin, and River City Rum (recognizable names that are nods to our beloved city). And, as any new business does, we have made many improvements to our products since they first launched... and we continue to do so. We’ve also added to our lineup a bourbon, rye whiskey, and a coffee liqueur.
By Indiana law, when we started the distillery, we were obligated to a three year waiting period before we could sell or sample alcohol at our location. We were able to work successfully with our local legislators to reduce the waiting period in half. During this time, we tore down the adjacent building and constructed a new restaurant, bar, and patio area in anticipation of the date that we would be able to serve alcohol on-site. On February 13, 2018, we opened our restaurant/bar next to our production facility.
Our progress in three years’ time has been remarkable and also incredibly tough. And, as I’m writing this, the nostalgia is not about our building, but more about our people: The co-founders who had the outlandish idea to start a distillery in Fort Wayne, the investors who took a chance on us, the employees who worked day and night to make this a unique destination in our city, the grit and determination of our distillers to make a product 100% grain to bottle, and the talented retail staff that interact with our customers six days a week.
Thank you to our customers, our community, our investors, our employees and their families for the continued support over the past three years. We can’t wait to see what the next three years holds for us.
Marla Schneider, President
Three Rivers Distilling Co.