HYATTSVILLE — A newly opened, small establishment situated in the heart of a notable arts district is expected to have an immense business and cultural impact as one of the latest additions to a vibrant community in Prince George’s County.
In recognition of Maryland’s Economic Development Week, the City of Hyattsville showcased Sangfroid Distilling, the city’s first-ever distillery, on Oct. 24 in a brief informal gathering consisting of co-owner Nate Groenendyk, city officials and a few community members.
Sangfroid used a 100-year-old renovated building to house its artisan craft distillery that will specialize in Dutch-style gin along with pear brandy co-owners Groenendyk and Jeff Harner suspect the business will be a major attraction in the county and surrounding areas.
“My hope is that it’s going to bring a lot more dollars and traffic to this area so that more businesses can benefit and that we can create a community that really recognizes high-quality products and get all the benefits from having more people come here,” said Groenendyk, a Des Moines, Iowa native who recently moved to Hyattsville to fulfill his entrepreneurial pursuits.
“Hyattsville, the arts district specifically…Making artisanal spirits ourselves, we found that this place was a welcoming community and city, and all the other business owners were really excited and supportive of us opening, so this was almost a no-brainer for us to come here.”
Sangfroid is the first distillery to open in Prince George’s County since Prohibition (1920-1933), the era during which the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the production, distribution and sale of alcohol.
Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth was also onsite to give encouraging remarks for what she thought to be a unique staple in the Hyattsville community. She credited the business as a prospective asset to the city’s economic plan and strategy and said it will contribute to Hyattsville’s burgeoning economy.
“This will have incredible significance for the City of Hyattsville because it is demonstrating, once again, that the businesses that are successful that choose Hyattsville are those that…are niche, and its contributions to the arts district,” Hollingsworth said.
“It will definitely have a regional draw for people interested in spirits,” added Hollingsworth, also a Hyattsville council member serving her fourth year in a mayoral capacity.
Groenendyk led a concise tour of the distillery, detailing how every machine works, how every piece of equipment functions and how he and Harner plan to provide a unique experience for customers.
He highlighted the various spirits, gins, ryes and brandies the distillery will manufacture, the graining and fermentation process, and how all the supplies seen in the building will be used. Groenendyk let the guests in on some of the ingredients included in the distiller’s handcrafted beverages and proceeded to show the bar and sampling areas.
“I would say that probably choosing Hyattsville – the arts district – was probably the easiest decision we’ve had to make in opening a business,” said Groenendyk, attributing the easy decision to the commitment, focus and support from officials in the city’s economic development office.
Last year, the city awarded the new distillers a $5,000 grant for new exterior doors, lighting, windows and paint as part of its Commercial Façade Improvement (CFI) Program, which uses state funding to match businesses dollar-for-dollar on improvements to the exterior of buildings in the city’s three commercial corridors, according to a release.
Because Sangfroid matched the CFI’s grant amount, $10,000 went toward acquiring a myriad of resources to facilitate and expedite the distillery project.
Groenendyk said he hopes to hold the grand opening in late November, shortly after Thanksgiving. He credited the city with helping Sangfroid find a location and navigate issues with utilities and permitting.
“We’re excited to be here, and this is going to be a great opportunity for us and Hyattsville,” Groenendyk said with alacrity.
Groenendyk recalled the materialization of the distillery being a three-to-four-year collaborative effort with Harner, a resident of nearby Takoma Park. He said he had received nothing but positive reaction and feedback from the community.
Organized by the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA), Maryland Economic Development Week is regarded as an opportunity to celebrate the impact economic development has on Maryland’s business climate, jobs, and overall quality of life. This year, the economic development week was from Oct. 21-27.
Hollingsworth presented Groenendyk with a certificate acknowledging Sangfroid’s participation in Maryland Economic Development Week, formally welcoming the distillery as the “newest addition to the business community in the City of Hyattsville.”
“I think their success here will demonstrate to those that might be hesitant to believe in the role that wine and spirits may play in economic development, that just because you have a place that is serving alcoholic beverages doesn’t deteriorate a community,” Hollingsworth said.
“It’s about how you incorporate that business and how to involve that business owner and that business into the fabric of the community and weave it in in such a way that it’s a contributor and not anything that takes away from the experience. And I hope that across the County may be that type of message is heard.”