The Little City is getting its very own distillery.
On Wednesday, Falls Church Distillers signed a lease for 3,400 square feet in The Young Group’s Washington Market center, taking over the former Mobu Kids space at 442 S. Washington Street.
The new operation comes from F.C. resident Michael Paluzzi, an Air Force veteran, who is following his lifelong passion. Raised in a family of Italian immigrants, the Falls Church Distillers CEO grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where he says alcohol-making was just part of his world. “Everyone made homemade wine, liqueurs, anisette, lemoncello…stuff like that,” he says. After an early career in the military and working with the military in his current job, Paluzzi says he wants the “sunset of his work life to be a passion.” Since wine making would take too long, liquor was the natural move. And continuing the family tradition, his oldest son Lorenzo, with a degree in chemistry, will be his chief distiller.
When picking a place for his distillery to come to life, Paluzzi says it came down to Falls Church and Washington, D.C. While the District has “more lax laws” on alcohol making, he says the final decision was all about location. “If I’m going to do something, I might as well do it in my own backyard.” And since the City of F.C. is allowing him to do much more with his space than Fairfax County would, it was The Little City proper that won out.
On Day 1, Paluzzi plans for Falls Church Distillers to offer vodka, gin and blended whiskey and has made arrangements with a couple of local restaurants for catering. Down the road, he hopes to offer small plates – Italian-themed, of course – like olives, cheese plates and bruschetta.
Paluzzi says he would love to be up and running in time for the holiday season (“Get in the holiday spirit with some local craft spirits!” he says) but he understands the waiting game and bureaucracy that comes with the application process. He submitted his application to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Wednesday night and thinks it will take between two to six months for approval.
Paluzzi estimates he can have the build out and installation of the distillery ready by Thanksgiving and then he says it would take a week to have bottles on the shelf.
“I’ll be pressing hard to make it happen,” Paluzzi says.