Steamboat Whiskey pivots business model, closes downtown tasting room
The doors of the Steamboat Whiskey Co.’s downtown tasting room have closed, and for the next couple of Saturdays owners Nathan and Jessica Newhall will be selling off their inventory as the company moves in a new direction.
“The Steamboat Whiskey Co.’s bar and restaurant is closing — well it’s effectively closed,” Jessica Newhall said earlier this week. “Now we’re doing bottle sales because we have a lot of inventory of all the wonderful products that we make.”
The 2000-square-foot bar and restaurant became a fixture in downtown Steamboat Springs since opening in December of 2019. That’s when the Newhalls expanded the operations of the Steamboat Whiskey Co., which was introduced in a small tasting room at 55 11th St. located just in front of the production facility that made the Steamboat distillery’s products a few years earlier.
Last week, a large moving sale sign appeared on the building, and on Thursday, Sept. 15, the owners confirmed that they were closing the location, but will continue to produce the award-winning Warrior Whiskey at a larger facility.
“We’ve decided to pivot the business to a distribution model, and stick with our Warrior Whiskey brand, which is what really got us started,” Newhall said. “That was our first product, so we’re going to continue the production of that at a larger facility in Colorado Springs.”
She said the recipes and process will remain the same, but that they have entered into what she refers to as a co-packing agreement with a larger distillery that will produce Warrior Whiskey, and will continue to be distributed to retailers.
Jessica Newhall said a number of factors led to the decision.
“I think it was a combination,” she said. “The fallout from COVID, and the housing crisis, which was exacerbated by COVID and the lack of skilled workers, which was also exacerbated by COVID.”
She said they struggled to find workers and the pressure that came along with a growing business has presented many challenges.
“It’s just been my husband and I now for the last 18 months or something like that,” Newhall said. “We have a 14-month-old baby, so we are wanting to find a little more work-life balance and that is hard to do running a production facility and a restaurant and a busy bar and patio. We were no exception to the great resignation.”
She said that the couple also wanted to get back to focusing on building the Warrior Whiskey brand, which is what they initially set out to do.
“We had so much fun with the bar, then we expanded the bar” Jessica Newhall said. “Now we’re just kind of trying to bring the focus back to our original goal.”
Right now, that goal is liquidating the items in the bar and restaurant along with the remaining inventory. The Newhalls plan to be at the tasting room, 1103 Lincoln Ave., from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
“We’re just selling off bottles and anything else people might want to buy from the bar,” Newhall said. “The community has been great, and people have been wonderful … we’re just really happy about that.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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