The people behind 2 Gingers Whiskey are bringing their small business expertise to Northeast.
Kieran Folliard, founder of 2 Gingers and Kieran's Irish Pub, closed on 1401 Marshall St. NE on March 15. Folliard and his staff will move their headquarters to the 31,000-square-foot building after conducting extensive renovations over the next two months.
Ultimately they plan on converting the building into a “small business accelerator,” for small food and beverage producers.
“People are familiar with the term 'incubator,' we want to take it one step further than that,” said Carrie Nicklow, president of 2 Gingers Whiskey. “We're looking for people that already have a product, they're in the market, and they're looking to take their business to the next level.”
Folliard and company have a proven track record as entrepreneurs. They rolled out 2 Gingers in January 2012 and Beam Inc. bought the brand less than a year later for an undisclosed sum. Now he serves as “Chief Irish Whiskey Ambassador in the U.S.” for Beam Inc.'s five Irish whiskey brands, as well as the chief operating officer of the Kilbeggan Distillery, where the whiskeys are made.
Nicklow and her staff are starting up Driven Donkey, a one-stop, a la carte consulting firm that provides businesses with accounting, legal, marketing and sales solutions. They hope to work with the tenants that move into 1401 Marshall and eventually outside companies as well.
“The plan is to provide top-notch professional services at better cost than others that are out there, and to provide solutions to the small food and beverage producers,” said Nicklow.
The first tenant will be Mike Phillips, who will be operating a yet-to-be-named 5,000-square-foot processing facility that will produce gourmet dry-cured meats. He will work with five or six small farmers to buy whole, heritage-breed pigs to produce “Italian-French style salumi and charcuterie."
Phillips said he has been working with officials from the University of Minnesota and the USDA to obtain USDA certification for his products, which means he will be able to sell across state lines. There are no plans to sell his meat directly to consumers to begin with, only to grocers, restaurants and delis. He hopes to be open by October.
The building will consist of a set of modular spaces that leave room for expansion and encourage collaboration among the tenants, and businesses that are willing to share expertise and distribution channels will be pursued.
“This will be a really collaborative environment and we hope the physical space and the people we bring in will reflect that,” said Nicklow, who said she has been in contact with about a dozen different businesses about becoming tenants.
Folliard has been trying to buy the building since July 2012, but only closed recently after a nine-month environmental review process at the former industrial site. They will work with the city of Minneapolis to extend or expand the current non-conforming use permit at the site, and in December the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization voted to formally support those efforts.