Erie’s Newest Distillery is Proof of Gannon SBDC’s Commitment to Local Small Businesses
Posted: August 6, 2018
Time is an essential ingredient in making fine distilled
spirits, but for an entrepreneur eager to get his business up and
running, time can be a vexing foe. That's why Dave Harkness turned
to the Gannon University Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
when he decided to make his dream of producing fine spirits a
Because distilleries are heavily regulated at the state and
federal level, SBDC consultant John Fee helped Harkness navigate
the filings and requirements that had to be in place before Erie
Distillery would be licensed to produce its first products. SBDC
also helped with projections, market and location research, product
mix, advice on financing and even labelling requirements.
A $150,000 capital infusion and owner injection propelled Erie
Distillery to what Harkness hopes will be a summer 2018 opening of
his Prohibition-themed tasting room at the gateway to Presque Isle
State Park, which draws more visitors annually than
Harkness hatched the idea for Erie Distillery in a Trade
Readjustment Allowances program.
"It was June 2017 when we got serious," Harkness recalls. "We
had to fill out paperwork with federal government and the LCB. My
wife said, 'Why don't we just do this.' She's the driving
A toolmaker by trade, Harkness fabricated his own stills and
tubing. He is also building the black walnut bar at his retail
location in Erie's busy Peninsula Drive corridor.
"When you grow up in Erie you hear it called the Mistake on the
Lake, but it's got such history," Harkness said. "I want to make a
distilled spirit that Erie can be proud of."