Greensboro Distilling signs lease for downtown storefront

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Bill Norman

by Eric Ginsburg

Greensboro Distilling, which initially planned to open in a warehouse space behind the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship on South Elm-Eugene Street, signed a lease yesterday for a different location, this time downtown.

Bill Norman, who is opening the distillery, said this morning that the company signed a lease for 115 W. Lewis St. yesterday. The space, which is owned by Andy Zimmerman and next door to Gibb’s Hundred Brewing, is currently occupied by the Forge makerspace.

“We will move in just after the first of the year and be producing alcohol by about March 1,” Norman said. “We’re really excited to be on West Lewis Street. I’m really looking forward to the vibe that’s there, the growth that’s going to happen… It really is the perfect market.”

Greensboro Distilling will operate a production area, storage, a tasting room, outdoor area in the back and a gift shop in the building, which is about 3,500 square feet, Norman said.

Courtesy image of the completed still
Courtesy image of the completed still

Norman said he was informed yesterday that the company’s 300-gallon still has been completed and should arrive around Jan. 10, just after they move into the building.

Greensboro Distilling will ultimately focus on bourbon and rye whiskey, but those products take about four and two years respectively. In the meantime, Norman said they will start with vodka and gin, followed by an aged whiskey that will take about one year. Recently changed North Carolina law allows distilleries to sell one bottle per year per customer on site, a change that Norman said they will take advantage of once open in 2016.

Andy Zimmerman, of AZ Development, has several other adjacent projects in the works, including plans to relocate the Forge makerspace to the former Flying Anvil building nearby. Zimmerman and the Forge’s newly appointed Executive Director Joe Rotondi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nussbaum Center President Sam Funchess said the plan for the distillery in a warehouse behind the business incubator failed because not enough capital could be raised for necessities such as extending water and sewer to the site. Greensboro Distilling had signed a lease for part of the building in May.

The company will be the first distillery in Greensboro. Sutler’s Spirit and Broad Branch Distilling recently opened in Winston-Salem.