Spirits on Water Street: Craft distillery approved for downtown location

A craft distillery is coming to the former Clock Shop space on Water Street. Rendering: Sage Designs LLC A craft distillery is coming to the former Clock Shop space on Water Street. Rendering: Sage Designs LLC

A newly formed company—so new that it hasn’t gone public with its name yet—is looking to get into the spirits business with a craft distillery in the former Clock Shop building at 201 W. Water St. The working title for the project is Vodka House, according to Clark Gathright, the civil engineer and site planner who ushered the building’s new design through the Board of Architectural Review approval process. The initial idea had been to create a distillery and tasting room similar to Vitae Spirits, on Henry Street, and even to offer outdoor seating.

“We started out with that in mind,” Gathright says. “But we got smacked down.” Evidently, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was not enamored of the tasting room idea.

Gathright says the distillery project is moving ahead, though he’s unsure what form it will ultimately take. Black Bear Properties LLC, which bought the building in 2016 and has ties to big-bucks developer Hunter Craig, had previously proposed to demolish it and build an eight-story luxury apartment building. The Charlottesville Planning Commission nixed that use of the site in November 2017.

In other news…

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which has more than 500 locations in the United States and abroad, has opened at 853 W. Main St., in The Standard at Charlottesville apartment building…The Crozet Trolley Co. is up and running, ferrying tippling tourists to the area’s wineries, breweries, and distilleries in an old-timey looking bus. Tour prices start at $39 per person…Waynesboro-based Blue Ridge Bucha is touting its use of reusable bottles as evidence of its commitment to sustainability. “Since 2010, more than 933,750 bottles have been saved by customers choosing to refill their Bucha bottles on draft,” a recent company blog post stated…On March 31 at Junction, chef Laura Fonner of Duner’s joins Junction chef Melissa Close-Hart to create a four-course meal, benefiting the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. Cost is $40 per person; $55 with wine pairing. For more info, call 465-6131.

Gee Whiz! A Potbelly Sandwich Shop (home of the cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz sammie) is open for business on West Main Street. Supplied photo