Encore July 2021

Page 15


Spirited Beginnings

Gull Lake Distilling Co. transforms iconic Galesburg theater by


photography by


In March, T.J. and Lindsey Koch found themselves in the head-

scratching position of celebrating the one-year anniversary of their business before they’d even hosted an official grand-opening party. The Kochs continue to bob and weave while making their foray into the world of craft spirits, wine and beer as the owners of Gull Lake Distilling Co., at 92 E. Michigan Ave., in Galesburg. The business was scheduled to open on March 21, 2020, but those plans were abruptly halted when the state entered its hard Covid-19 lockdown five days before. Since it's “quiet opening” on June 8, 2020, there have been closings, reopenings, curbside service, dine-out only and a series of other adjust-on-the-fly moments that, surprisingly, have left the Kochs refreshingly excited.

“I’m super optimistic about the future,” says T.J. Koch. “Just knowing this business and the employees can be happy and employed, work here year-round and have the turnout that we’ve had from the community, I’m ecstatic and super-optimistic about where this place is going to go. We keep putting 100 percent of our lives back into this business. Hopefully, as we get a vaccine and figure out how to deal with this virus, things will really start moving forward.” ‘The last frontier’ The Kochs moved to Richland from Chicago more than three years ago. Both were longtime educators who wanted to leave the city. Bottles await spirits to fill them at Gull Lake Distilling Co. in Galesburg.

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