Under new ownership, Blue Bee Cider set to move from Scott’s Addition to Henrico

blue bee benson smith cropped

Blue Bee Cider owners Taylor Benson and Mackenzie Smith. (Courtesy Blue Bee Cider)

The new owners of a Scott’s Addition cidery are preparing to replant their venture in Henrico County. 

Blue Bee Cider is set to relocate to 4811 Bethlehem Road, owners Taylor Benson and Mackenzie Smith confirmed last week. 

The move will give Blue Bee 4,800 square feet of space just east of Libbie Mill-Midtown near Staples Mill Road. Benson and Smith, a couple and long-time employees of the cidery, bought Blue Bee from founder Courtney Mailey in March for an undisclosed amount. 

blue bee bethlehem

Blue Bee Cider is heading to a new building just east of Libbie Mill-Midtown. (Mike Platania photo)

Late last year Mailey also sold Blue Bee’s Scott’s Addition complex at 1320 Summit Ave. for $2.9 million to a group of unknown buyers. It remains unclear what the future plans are for the multi-building Summit Avenue property, but last year the buyers filed plans that would allow for a variety of uses, including a market, restaurant, bakery and distillery.

Both VCU alums, Benson and Smith have worked at Blue Bee for eight years. Most recently, Smith managed the cidery’s events and Benson was its head cider maker, and said for years they’d wanted to have a cidery of their own. 

“We didn’t know what the potential of Blue Bee was as far as ownership. We started the conversation a few years ago and Courtney wasn’t ready for it then,” Benson said. “Last summer was when she sat down with us about what she had planned and how she wanted business to continue on. What we planted as a seed two years ago came to fruition.”

blue bee cidery building

Blue Bee’s original home in Scott’s Addition is constructed out of cobblestones that once paved Richmond streets. (BizSense file photo)

The duo considered staying on Summit Avenue, but it would have required them to house production elsewhere and use the space mostly as a satellite taproom. Smith and Benson said they ultimately decided to look for a new home for Blue Bee.

“We really like the aspect of consumers being able to tour and look at the production side of things and see apples growing outside,” Benson said. “We want to keep all that part of our business and staying (in Scott’s Addition) was going to chop up our business.”

They landed on Bethlehem Road in a flex industrial space that was formerly home to Craven Electrical Services and Fastenal. Thalhimer’s Gregg Beck represented the landlord in lease negotiations. 

Smith and Benson are working with Johannas Design Group to design the new facility, which they said is planned to include a bar, multiple lounge areas and a private event space. The building includes a 30-spot parking lot and a front yard facing Bethlehem on which Smith said they’re planning to plant apple trees.  

“We’ll be able to plant trees and berry bushes. We won’t be able to have anybody sit on that grassy area because we can’t have alcohol consumption within 100 feet of a residential area,” Smith said. “But the plan, when we open or in the next couple years, is to have a deck on the side of the building for outdoor use.”

Blue Bee’s new home is near Henrico’s Westwood area that’s seen increased developer interest in recent years with hundreds of new apartments both in progress and being planned

“It’s a great location, it’s on the up,” Benson said. 

Benson and Smith said in recent weeks they temporarily closed Blue Bee as they prepare for the move, which they hope to have completed in the fall. In the meantime, they said they’ve been running Blue Bee as a pop-up around town as well as doing curbside pickup and delivery. 

Benson said they’re ready to see where the next leg of their Blue Bee journey takes them.

“When I started, my job was hand-labeling bottles.…Owning this business was not on my radar eight years ago,” Smith said, laughing. “We’re a strong team. I’m really excited for this new chapter and to run a cidery.”

blue bee benson smith cropped

Blue Bee Cider owners Taylor Benson and Mackenzie Smith. (Courtesy Blue Bee Cider)

The new owners of a Scott’s Addition cidery are preparing to replant their venture in Henrico County. 

Blue Bee Cider is set to relocate to 4811 Bethlehem Road, owners Taylor Benson and Mackenzie Smith confirmed last week. 

The move will give Blue Bee 4,800 square feet of space just east of Libbie Mill-Midtown near Staples Mill Road. Benson and Smith, a couple and long-time employees of the cidery, bought Blue Bee from founder Courtney Mailey in March for an undisclosed amount. 

blue bee bethlehem

Blue Bee Cider is heading to a new building just east of Libbie Mill-Midtown. (Mike Platania photo)

Late last year Mailey also sold Blue Bee’s Scott’s Addition complex at 1320 Summit Ave. for $2.9 million to a group of unknown buyers. It remains unclear what the future plans are for the multi-building Summit Avenue property, but last year the buyers filed plans that would allow for a variety of uses, including a market, restaurant, bakery and distillery.

Both VCU alums, Benson and Smith have worked at Blue Bee for eight years. Most recently, Smith managed the cidery’s events and Benson was its head cider maker, and said for years they’d wanted to have a cidery of their own. 

“We didn’t know what the potential of Blue Bee was as far as ownership. We started the conversation a few years ago and Courtney wasn’t ready for it then,” Benson said. “Last summer was when she sat down with us about what she had planned and how she wanted business to continue on. What we planted as a seed two years ago came to fruition.”

blue bee cidery building

Blue Bee’s original home in Scott’s Addition is constructed out of cobblestones that once paved Richmond streets. (BizSense file photo)

The duo considered staying on Summit Avenue, but it would have required them to house production elsewhere and use the space mostly as a satellite taproom. Smith and Benson said they ultimately decided to look for a new home for Blue Bee.

“We really like the aspect of consumers being able to tour and look at the production side of things and see apples growing outside,” Benson said. “We want to keep all that part of our business and staying (in Scott’s Addition) was going to chop up our business.”

They landed on Bethlehem Road in a flex industrial space that was formerly home to Craven Electrical Services and Fastenal. Thalhimer’s Gregg Beck represented the landlord in lease negotiations. 

Smith and Benson are working with Johannas Design Group to design the new facility, which they said is planned to include a bar, multiple lounge areas and a private event space. The building includes a 30-spot parking lot and a front yard facing Bethlehem on which Smith said they’re planning to plant apple trees.  

“We’ll be able to plant trees and berry bushes. We won’t be able to have anybody sit on that grassy area because we can’t have alcohol consumption within 100 feet of a residential area,” Smith said. “But the plan, when we open or in the next couple years, is to have a deck on the side of the building for outdoor use.”

Blue Bee’s new home is near Henrico’s Westwood area that’s seen increased developer interest in recent years with hundreds of new apartments both in progress and being planned

“It’s a great location, it’s on the up,” Benson said. 

Benson and Smith said in recent weeks they temporarily closed Blue Bee as they prepare for the move, which they hope to have completed in the fall. In the meantime, they said they’ve been running Blue Bee as a pop-up around town as well as doing curbside pickup and delivery. 

Benson said they’re ready to see where the next leg of their Blue Bee journey takes them.

“When I started, my job was hand-labeling bottles.…Owning this business was not on my radar eight years ago,” Smith said, laughing. “We’re a strong team. I’m really excited for this new chapter and to run a cidery.”

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Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
9 months ago

Always great to see employees take helm and pursue ownership. It seems a key element in most small business success includes being their own landlord. Hope they get that chance too.

Brad Marrs
Brad Marrs
9 months ago

Scott’s Addition was the most recent location, but not the original. They started in Manchester.

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
9 months ago

I don’t understand the rule about alcohol within 100 ft of a residential area. Across Staples Mill, in Libbie Mill, alcohol is being served next to and below residences. Is this a county ordinance? I can’t imagine it’s a VABC law because of bars in historic neighborhoods of Richmond, right next to residences.

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull
9 months ago

I’m wondering if the City’s business taxes had any influence on their move? The City makes it hard for businesses to remain or expand.

Charles Frankenhoff
Charles Frankenhoff
9 months ago

I wish them luck, but I wonder if moving out of Scott’s Addition is a good idea for a drinks business

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
9 months ago

That was my thought, too. The Bethlehem Road location will be tough – no pedestrian traffic, and little visibility. Good luck to them!

Jonathan Goldberg
Jonathan Goldberg
9 months ago

The Summit Ave complex is one of the coolest spaces in the city. If they plan on running BBC like a restaurant – ie, how many people can we fit in a physical space and how much product can we sell them while they’re here – their new space will likely be a step backward. However, if they invest the proceeds of the sale into building their retail brand and retail sales where there is no ceiling on customer capacity, I’d call it a smart play.