Bitter Man Distillery faces unfortunate fate
The Bitter Man Distillery Company, originally approved for the old 6,000-square-foot Pat Felice’s Automotive & Tire Center building across from Bowl Long Island and the Watch Hill Ferry Terminal, will no longer be occupying that space.
According to Bitter Man Distillery owner Anthony Gruppuso, the building, formerly owned by Gary Herold, was left to another family member after Herold passed away. Herold, according to his obituary, passed away on May 30 at the age of 64. Gruppuso said that after his passing, the original contract to purchase the building wasn’t honored by the new owner — who was only contacted through attorneys.
No one from the Herold family could be reached for comment.
“This entire process has been very long and complicated,” said Gruppuso, feeling a bit defeated. “This was all predicated by numerous approvals, [after] which, at some point while awaiting a closing date the property owner passed.”
Though he couldn’t disclose any legal actions he may or may not take, he said he has given up on the 147 West Avenue site and is currently seeking another location within Patchogue Village. It is rumored that a cesspool company has plans to purchase that site. However, according to Carol Giglio, village planning and zoning coordinator, the site currently has no applications.
Depending on where Gruppuso finds another location, he said, will depend on how quickly the distillery can be operational. Once a site is found, it will take anywhere from three to five months for federal permitting and paperwork to process. In the meantime, he is seeking an available 4,000- to 7,000-square-foot building.
“You never know who knows someone who knows someone that will help us find a building,” he said. “The village has seen such a wonderful resurgence that we really want to key in on and be a part of.”
Gruppuso, 55, of Bayport has owned AutoFix Collision Center for 19 years. He also works for USA Today as a sports photographer. He and his wife Lorie plan to run the family distillery to bottle and distill vodka, gin and whiskey.
“It’s a shame,” said Mayor Paul Pontieri. “The distillery would have been a nice addition to our community and would have really fit in with what we are trying to do here with the [Blue Point] brewery. I really hope they find someplace within the village.”
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