When The Spokesman-Review moved its print publishing operations to Spokane Valley last year, it ended a 125-year run of printing newspapers downtown but provided a local company with opportunity to expand.
In September, Spokane-based Dry Fly Distilling began transforming a 16,000-square-foot space into a new production facility and tasting room in The Spokesman-Review’s former newspaper press building at 1 N. Monroe St.
Visible changes are taking shape with a new Dry Fly Distilling sign, which was placed on the building’s exterior two weeks ago.
The project – which calls for a tasting room, barrel storage, production and bottling areas, offices and a retail shop – is more than 40% complete, said Don Poffenroth, Dry Fly Distilling president and CEO.
“A majority of the work done thus far is utility-based: electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning,” he said. “We are currently working on the flooring and are getting ready to erect a 3,000-square-foot mezzanine.”
The mezzanine will house Dry Fly’s corporate office, a conference room and a small event space, he said.
Dry Fly is taking a phased approach to opening its new production facility with plans to begin canning and bottling in March and distilling operations anticipated to follow in April.
The facility’s tasting room, which will have seating for 75 , is expected to open in May or June, depending on state COVID-19 guidelines, Poffenroth said.
The new production facility will eventually replace Dry Fly’s location on Trent Avenue near Gonzaga University, Poffenroth said.
After Dry Fly Distilling maxed out space at its existing location, the company initially considered a move to a larger facility in north Spokane, but that building failed an engineering test, Poffenroth said.
About a week later, Poffenroth was contacted by the Cowles family about a potential vacancy in The Spokesman-Review’s former newsprint and press building.
The building is owned by Cowles Real Estate Co., a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.
“It’s 1,000 times better suited for Dry Fly,” Poffenroth said of the building. “It’s a unicorn. Sometimes, a plan just comes together.”
Dry Fly’s new production facility will be more than four times the size of its existing location and with potential to expand, allowing the company to increase speed and efficiency of canning and bottling, Poffenroth said.
“We literally, every day, have to move 20 pallets out of our facility to make it functional,” Poffenroth said. “We are looking forward to having additional capacity.”
The distillation tanks in the new facility will be 20 feet tall by 8 feet in diameter, Poffenroth added.
Some 17 employees will work at the production facility, but the number of workers is expected to nearly double once Dry Fly ramps up retail operations, Poffenroth said.
The new location will feature items that pay homage to manufacturing in Spokane and the history of The Spokesman-Review.
“We asked the Cowles family to provide us with things they have in their archives that tell the story of the building,” Poffenroth said.
Poffenroth said he’s unsure of the type of items that will be provided by the Cowles family, but it may be newspapers and small pieces of machinery, among other things.
A refurbished Linotype machine could be among the items displayed in the building, Stacy Cowles, publisher of The Spokesman-Review, said in an email.
Dry Fly, which began producing gin, whiskey and vodka in 2007, will also be showcasing its history in the building, Poffenroth said.
“We’re looking forward to showing off the 14-year history of Dry Fly as well the ability to tell our story in a better format than we have currently,” Poffenroth said.
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