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May 8, 2019

A small change in Iowa law is making a big difference for one Quad Cities business.  Mississippi Distilling Company in LeClaire is rolling out plans for a million dollar expansion thanks to a recent  law change that allows sales by the glass at Iowa distilleries.

“We knew it would change our business.” said owner Garrett Burchett.  “But I don’t think even we knew how drastically it would change things for us.”

The bill was one Mississippi River Distilling Company championed in Des Moines for nearly five years before finally seeing it pass in 2017.  The bill allowed for increased sales limits for Iowa distilleries including sales by the glass.  After opening their Cody Road Cocktail House in July of 2017, the business has changed dramatically.

“Our model used to be primarily focused on sales through distribution in the outer retail market.” Said owner Ryan Burchett.  “Our business in LeClaire grew so quickly here in LeClaire that we’ve shifted significant focus to growing our business locally.”

Those changes are culminating in an expansion of their storefront on Cody Road (U.S. Highway 67) in downtown LeClaire.  The company is investing more than $1 million in developing a lot just north of the distillery in the space between the distillery and neighboring Green Tree Brewery.

“We secured this lot with the expectation that we would need additional space for production.” said Garrett.  “However the demand for additional cocktail service and event space pushed us in a new direction that will result in a really interesting flexible use space for us and for the community.”

The brothers plan flexible use of the space.  “We envision an area where we might host our First Friday event one day, have a class reunion party the next day, serve a brunch on Sunday and roll the bottling line in on Monday and be filling whiskey bottles.” Said Garrett.  “You never know what you might find in there.” 

The building will feature two floors of open space with large windows looking at the Mississippi River.  The basement will also house a unique meeting space lined with whiskey barrels and river views.

“We’re named after the Mississippi River for a reason.” said Ryan.  “It’s a national landmark and we have amazing views here at the distillery.  We think the combination of the river and the uniqueness of what we offer here as an authentic craft distillery will offer something unmatched from a hospitality standpoint.”

The space will have room for banquet seating for about 170 people, a private meeting room, multiple bars and a catering kitchen.  The plans have been approved by the LeClaire City Council and construction is moving forward.

“None of this would have been possible without the law change.” said Garrett.  “First of all, we wouldn’t have the financial ability to tackle a project like this.  Secondly, we wouldn’t be able to host the kind of activities here that this space is designed for without the ability to pour a drink.  This is a great success story for what can happen when the state of Iowa stands behind small business.”

The hope is to have the new expansion open before the end of the year.  “If everything goes as planned, we will be booking events in the space for the fall.” added Ryan. “We can’t wait to get thing rolling.” 

Mississippi River Distilling Company

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