*Update – Article 30 was passed at the Oak Bluffs Town Meeting on April 12th. Now, High Tide needs to apply for a special permit, but things are looking positive!
A couple of years ago, two friends were hanging out one night at Port Hunter, enjoying the amazing cocktails there and spirits used to make them. The conversation got a little more serious. The two friends began discussing the idea of making their own.
That was 2014, now two years later, one of those ladies is working to make that dream a reality. Eleni Collins Roriz and her husband Johnny, have found their ideal location for what she is calling High Tide Distillery (Blue Rock Design is working on the logo).
Do you know where the School Street Garage is in Oak Bluffs? It’s on Dukes County Road, right down the street from the harbor.
The land is currently filled with cars, some that are waiting for repairs, and some that seem like they may have made a home there. Anyhow, the lease for the auto shop is up, and owner Scott Dario is interested in leasing the building to Eleni for the distillery.
The metal building there is ideal for her vision. She is working with Island architect, Chuck Sullivan, to create an experience. Part of the building will house the column still (like the one below), bottling machinery, offices, and there are plans to include a tasting room. Think of when you go to a vineyard where you have wine tastings, something similar to that. It makes me think of Cisco Brewery on Nantucket which I like to visit.
Here, people will be able to try the 100% locally crafted fine spirits. Eleni has found a local farm to work with for the potatoes and plans to source any other ingredients like herbs and fruits, locally as well. She is committed to creating a product that is local and special, something you’d be proud to serve to your friends.
High Tide is definitely a lot different from Martha’s Vineyard Distilling Company. It will focus on vodka, and plans to become a destination for Islanders and visitors alike, year round.
While you can imagine that she has been met with support and opposition, Eleni has continued to pursue her dream of having High Tide in Oak Bluffs. Eleni is from Oak Bluffs, currently resides in Oak Bluffs with her husband Johnny, and wants to have her business in Oak Bluffs. It would be a lot easier to have High Tide in Edgartown or Vineyard Haven, but her heart belongs to Oak Bluffs.
With that said, she has been working with the town planning board to bring Article 30 to vote at the town meeting, Tuesday, April 12th. Article 30 applies to “light manufacturing,” allowing for Eleni to operate her business in this B1 district. It provides an opportunity for business owners to apply for a special permit, one that requires a notification and hearing process to manufacture for sale, off premises, things like alcohol, sheds, picnic tables or even t-shirts.
Article 30 has the support of the building inspector, Planning board and Selectmen, but has to go to town vote. Some of the neighbors have concerns about what doors this can open for other B1 businesses. Currently the area is mixed use, residential mostly, sprinkled with businesses.
So, the future of High Tide depends on what happens at the town meeting. If Article 30 gets approved, then High Tide will be open for business next Summer. If it doesn’t get approved, we’ll have to wait and see. Eleni already has the still, and she has the passion for seeing this through.
I live in close proximity to where High Tide is planning to open. Though I do have concerns for other businesses in the future, my thought is, I do like this plan. Currently, the building and space are not adding any value to the neighborhood. It’s not visually appealing, and does not add a lot of value for drawing people down Dukes County Avenue to other businesses like the Josephine Gallery and the iconic Alison Shaw Gallery. Plus, I hope that more Island artists open businesses in the area.
I had mentioned Cisco Brewery and Triple 8 Vodka before, and that’s what I image this to be similar to, but more appealing with a cleaner design. I definitely think that I would go, and bring friends to High Tide. I like that the next generation is working to make a life on the Island and help grow town business.
We’ll know more about the future of High Tide Distillery very soon. If you are an Oak Bluffs resident and have an opinion on Article 30, go to Town Meeting on Tuesday, April 12th, 7:00 p.m. at the PAC center at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Thanks for reading On Point. High Tide’s website is under developed. In the meantime, you can stay connected with Island happenings with on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest and Youtube.