On trip to drop off his kid, dad picks up a distillery

The auction of a former Hardy Street distillery drew a crowd. (Photos by Burl Rolett)

The auction of a former Hardy Street distillery drew a crowd. (Photos by Burl Rolett)

Jonathan Staples didn’t come to Richmond to buy a distillery, but he’ll leave as the owner of one.

Staples, who works in private equity in Frederick, Md., bought the former Cirrus Vodka distillery at 2700 Hardy St. at an auction Tuesday for $375,000.

Staples was born in Richmond and was visiting on his way to drop his daughter off at a camp at Randolph-Macon College. Staples said his father, who still lives in the city, called him three days ago to tell him about the auction.

“It was serendipitous,” Staples said. “[I said] ‘I’ll drive by just for the fun of it.’”

Jonathan Staples signs for his purchase.

Jonathan Staples signs for his purchase.

His purchase included the property’s distilling equipment. Staples said he is working with a group of investors to open a distillery, but they’ve yet to choose a location.

“We’re not sure,” he said. “We’re in the process of buying equipment.”

The 2,600-square-foot distillery was formerly owned by Parched Group, LLC, which produced Cirrus Vodka in 2004. Parched Group founder Paul McCann bought the Hardy Street property in 2010.

It’s unclear when vodka production stopped at Hardy Street. McCann did not return several calls and emails regarding his plans for the company and the Cirrus brand’s future. Parched Group’s distilling license for the property is scheduled to expire at the end of July, according to state Alcoholic Beverage Control records.

The Cirrus website has been taken down.

Cirrus had sold 853 bottles in Virginia during fiscal 2013 as of June 3, state ABC spokeswoman Carol Mawyer said, an almost 74 percent drop from the previous year. The ABC fiscal year ends June 30.

McCann took out a $300,000 loan for the business from EVB in September 2011, according to city records. A foreclosure on the Hardy Street distillery began about nine weeks ago. The city assessed the property at $125,000.

The auction drew 32 registered bidders, said Mark Motley, president and chief executive of Motley’s Auction and Realty Group, which handled the sale. Fortis Trustees, a Motley’s affiliate, executed the foreclosure, and Shaheen Law Firm served as a substitute trustee.

Staples’s partners in the planned distillery are scattered geographically, he said, although several are based in the Washington area. Although Staples wouldn’t say what his team hoped to produce, he knows he won’t have any part in creating it.

“I’m not a distiller,” he said. “I sit on the other side of the bar.”

It's unclear when Cirrus Vodka stopped producing at the distillery.

It’s unclear when Cirrus Vodka stopped producing at the distillery.

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