A smoother road: rural distillery seeing more traffic after highway re-paved
A rural Saskatchewan distillery is experiencing a higher flow in traffic after the highway that leads to the business was re-paved.
The owners of Smooth 42 Craft Distillery in Brownlee, Adam Dombowsky, his brother Daniel, and their friend Sacha Elez chose the name as an ironic nod to the road that leads to the company.
“(Highway 42) was pretty well the worst highway in Saskatchewan for a solid five or six years,” Smooth 42 CEO Sacha Elez said.
“We thought it would be a funny name to call it Smooth 42, after the highway, which was anything but smooth. The locals thought it was funny.”
The road was almost unusable, and people would “drive on the grid because it was faster”, said Elez. “The grids were smoother than the highway.”
He added people would even go as far as avoiding the highway and take Highway 1 down to Highway 19. Elez noted the alternate route was “a bit of a detour.”
Fortunately for the business – and driver’s windshields and vehicle suspensions – the road was paved.
“Shortly after we got up and running, they started working on the road and re-paved it, now it’s literally smooth. It’s not quite as funny but at least people are coming out this way now.”
The business has seen an uptick in foot traffic since the road work.
“There’s definitely more traffic stopping [by]. This weekend, there was a steady stream of campers and boats coming down the highway. It’s a decent half-way stop from Moose Jaw if you’re heading out to the lake,” Elez said.
The distillery, which specializes in vodkas and moonshine, runs out of a transformed curling rink, which the owners got a great deal on.
“We bought the Brownlee curling rink from the town for a dollar,” Elez recalled.
“Brownlee was ecstatic for a new business to move in and made it as easy as possible for us, so it’s been great so far.”
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Elez and the two Dombowsky brothers gutted the rink and constructed the distillery with help from friends and family, which took one year.
The distillery, which has been licensed for about a year now, doesn’t rely on foot traffic for the lion’s share of its business as its customers are retailers and farmers’ market-goers, but the owners of the storied company do enjoy seeing customers walk through its doors.
“We’re always testing new batches of experimental stuff on our customers who come in. Most people just see the billboard and they pull in and we give them the full sample and tour experience.”
Brownlee is about 125 kilometres northwest of Regina.
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