What does the partnership of three area entrepreneurs and George Washington all have in common? They were inspired to own and operate a distillery.
Dave Goldberg, retired Westminster College professor, sold the idea to launch the New Castle Union Station Craft Distillery, Inc. to be housed at 334 East Washington St. in downtown New Castle.
Goldberg serves as its president, Rod Firmi serves as its secretary and Dave Dugan serves as its treasurer.
“I have been a whiskey aficionado for about 30 years,” Goldberg said. Retired since 2019, he convinced Firmi and Dugan to give the venture a try.
“It will be a totally new venture for me,” Firmi said, whose business background includes serving as the president of Olde Recipe Foods, Inc. since 2004.
Dugan comes with a background in marketing.
The distillery will occupy the former train station and caboose that recently housed Clark’s Studio photography business. The old train station had been undergoing some renovations for several years, ripping it down from a two-story structure to its original one-story frame. Firmi said the building had been built back in 1909 but suffered a fire around 1913 and had to be re-built.
After the current demolition is complete, reconstruction will begin immediately, with the expectation that the renovations will be complete by early spring of 2022.
“We hope to be up and running at first employing five to 10 employees,” Goldberg said. “The building is owned by DON Enterprises, which also owns the Packard Paints and Clark’s Furniture buildings below the courthouse, says Firmi. The distillery will lease the location from DON.
“We will specialize in whiskey, vodka, gin, and eventually rye, bourbon, and rum, being processed through a 300-gallon pot still called a combination still, with a reflux column, a special hybrid distillation brand,” Goldberg said.
The business will also house a small, retail store, selling mugs, steins, T-shirts, shirts and other memorabilia. As a licensed distillery, they will also be permitted to sell their liquors directly out of the plant and may sell to any business licensed under the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
This will not be just a part-time or retirement interest for the men and intend to run it as their full-time employment. They said the business will distill liquor, provide tours of the distillery and host tastings. Since all three men live in New Castle, they envision the distillery becoming a part of a network of area distilleries and said that “we hope to attract visitors to downtown New Castle.