There’s a lot more to Long Road Distillers than just being Grand Rapids’ first distillery.
Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor took an old grocery store on the west side and turned it into a state-of-the-art distillery that, within the first year of operation, is already one of the state’s largest.
As long-term proponents of the city’s west side, Van Strien and O’Connor are expanding on the organic neighborhood revitalization occurring on the corner of Leonard Street and Quarry Avenue with The Mitten Brewing Co. and Two Scotts BBQ.
It helps that the two owners are involved in the community, with Van Strien on the Grand Rapids Planning Commission and O’Connor a newly elected city commissioner – and a Business Journal 40 Under Forty honoree.
The pair are fond of telling their story, highlighting the process of going grain-to-glass with their product, with ingredients sourced from within 30 miles of their Grand Rapids tasting room.
The products are better for it, too. Long Road has already been named Michigan Vodka Distiller of the year, and is helping define what cocktails can be in the Mid-west.
And they know they’re doing in right.
“I’ve tasted it. We know good spirits when we taste them,” Van Strien said. “We went out to find the right equipment you need to make it; we found the guys capable of making it; we’ve put the pieces together to be able to make the best liquid.”