It was over a year ago, in March 2013, that Joel Malone announced a Kickstarter campaign for Bishop Arts Cider. He'd already been working for more than a year to get his fledgling cidery running. He'd been paying rent in the Bishop Arts for nearly as long, but was delayed by a permit process he called "tough but manageable." Malone hoped he'd be open in May of last year.
A year-plus later, he still isn't open.
"In the beginning I would get pretty upset and try to go over people's heads," says Malone, as he describes the frustration of dealing with city officials. One visit would yield one set of requirements that would incur construction and other costs, only to find those rules were incorrect or incomplete, requiring more finances and another month's rent. But anger only slowed the process.
"You kind of have to play their game," he says. "It's a system where you have to hire a consultant."
Malone did hire a consultant for some of the process, as he waded through city planning, parking, plumbing, health and electrical inspections. Then there was the Tax and Trade Bureau permit, three TABC permits and the $15,000 he had to spend on a grease trap that was required, despite that he's not cooking any food at his cidery.
Part of the delay is that unlike Peticolas, Deep Ellum and other beer breweries in Dallas, Malone's product is viewed not as beer but as wine, because it's made with fruit. Malone is cutting into new territory for Dallas, and like farmers markets, food trucks and other entities new to the city, navigating ordinances gets tough when they don't align with a new concept perfectly.
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The good news is, Malone hopes to wrap up the red tape nightmare with a few more inspections this week, which could have him starting his first batch of cider by the end of the month.
"Dallas is going through a whole transition to wanting more wineries and breweries, but they don't have the infrastructure," Malone says. As he spoke he surveyed some minor water damage to his bar top from the recent rain storm -- another setback he refuses to let keep him from opening his cidery soon.
And when he does?
"Half of our first batch will go to bars and restaurants," Malone says. The rest he's hanging on to, so he can sell it directly to you. "We'll have a big event, and close down the parking lot in front of the building." Expect a band and plenty of cider-drinking for sure. Just sure there's enough for Malone. He'll have earned it.