A global pandemic will not stop a husband and wife team from realizing their whiskey dreams in Seguin.
Last September, Seguin City Council approved an ordinance that allows distilleries in the city limits.
Several months later, Austin residents Jen and Nate Forman announced their plans to purchase the long-vacant firehouse on 1711 N. Austin St. and convert it into a whiskey manufacturing company that they will call Johnny Pickles Distillery.
They are now one step closer as the Seguin City Council approved the sale of the firehouse to the Forman’s for the negotiated price of about $200,000 on Tuesday during the regular council meeting. The resolution was approved unanimously following a motion by councilman Mark Herbold and seconded by councilwoman Jeanette “Jet” Crabb.
“This is just to clean everything up for the title and that, but it is now sold and has been funded,” Seguin City Attorney Andy Quittner said. “They’ve already gone through planning and are ready to roll. COVID probably slowed that down too because it couldn’t get it through court to get a title for quite a while. They’ve got to fix the building up a little bit, but it won’t be long.”
A memo provided to the city council stated that a defect in the title slowed the firehouse’s sale process.
“The property was owned by a company out of Georgia a long time ago,” Jen said. “Then they gave it to the city of Seguin in order to use the property for a firehouse. And the title stipulated that as long as they were using it as a firehouse, they could keep the land. So [because] they’re selling it to us, they needed to make sure that they could do that. They just wanted to clear the title so that the sale could go through, and then once we own the property, our title would be clear.”
Jen and Nate are working quickly to start renovating the building, she said.
“We are working on the construction plans right now,” Jen said. “We’re working on the renovations as well as doing a lot of work on the property itself. We need to build a parking lot, driveway, and things like that. So as soon as we can complete that and then get the approval process through the city, which is certainly going to take a few weeks at least…I wish I could say we’re starting on this day, but I don’t know — definitely within the next few months.”
Aside from planning renovations, the duo has worked to find a local corn supplier for their products.
“We’ve been doing things that we can do right now like finalizing our equipment list, making sure we’re actually using a couple of different manufacturers here in the United States, and I’ve also been trying hard to find a corn supplier right in Seguin so we can stay as local as possible. So we’re really just doing the beginning parts of all of a production manufacturing facility needs.”
Considering the impact the coronavirus has had on businesses throughout the country, Jen said she is anticipating delays to the process, but she remains hopeful the distillery will open its doors sooner rather than later.
“There’s definitely going to be delays,” she said. “I think that in any industry that you’re in, you’re going to anticipate that things aren’t going to flow as normally as they would in a usual economy. I think that everybody has been flipped upside down a bit. We were hoping to be open within a year of our close — we’ll see. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can still move ahead with a schedule as best as we can under the circumstances.”
Once complete, the Formans hope the distillery becomes more than simply a manufacturing facility as they plan to offer a bevy of house-made cocktails and seating on the premises.
For more information on Johnny Pickles Distillery, visit www.facebook.com/Johnny-Pickles-Distillery-104842321285728 or www.instagram.com/johnnypicklestx/?hl=en .