Two clients of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown are spreading their wings and expanding their sales with new tasting room locations in the Lehigh Valley. The Colony Meadery and County Seat Spirits are now serving up their beverages at recently opened facilities in Southside Bethlehem and Easton, respectively.

For The Colony Meadery, its new location in Southside Bethlehem replaces its former tasting room in the city’s downtown inside The Moravian Book Shop. Located at 211 E. Third Street, it is currently in its soft opening phase with a grand opening planned during Musikfest in early August. In addition to selling its signature meads, it also has local beer on tap and cocktails made with local spirits, as well as mead slushies.

When it came to deciding whether or not to stay in downtown Bethlehem or move across the river to southside, the choice was easy thanks in part to a connection to the established small businesses in the neighborhood.

“South Bethlehem is both a place where I had roots from childhood and a place where a lot of businesses we already work and associate with were locating,” explained Greg Heller-LaBelle, Co-Founder & CEO. “In the area are Domaci, Bonn Place, Brewing and Social Still, and in development nearby are Seven Sirens and Country Club Brewing. There are community anchors like Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Homebase, the Museum of Industrial History, and Northampton Community College. We feel very comfortable in this community. We chose to buy the building mostly because of the opportunity to join the area and have control over our environment for the future.

Heller-LaBelle and business partner Mike Manning chose to purchase the building in which the new location is housed rather than rent space again. “This location is wholly us. We control the hours, environment, menu and everything. Almost all beverage companies in Pennsylvania see adding tasting rooms as being key to their growth. The ability to directly control the customer experience is too valuable to pass up.”

For County Seat Spirits, its new Easton location at 669 N. 13thStreet is its first tasting room outside of Bridgeworks. Recently opened, the site is located in the redeveloped Simon Silk Mill complex where guests can taste and purchase their gin, vodka, rum, bourbon and more.

“Our primary distillery location at the Bridgeworks was always designed to be first and foremost a manufacturing facility,” explained CEO and President Anthony Brichta. “Its tasting room is small and really an accessory to our manufacturing operations that allows customers to see the distillery equipment, try our spirits, buy bottles and try cocktails. Since opening, we’ve consistently been on the lookout for an additional tasting room location in the Lehigh Valley that would fit our brand and would give us more space to showcase our craft spirits and cocktail offerings.”

Another consideration for a larger tasting room location was the recent change in Pennsylvania laws that allows distilleries to now sell Pennsylvania-made beer, wine, mead, and other spirits, which made it more feasible for Brichta and his business partner John Rowe to open a larger tasting room with a focus on cocktails.

“In any small business where you are selling a product, it’s important to get as much direct contact with your customers as you can,” said Brichta. “While we sell our spirits to other bars and through Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits stores, there’s no substitute to talking directly to a customer who is interested in our product. Our Easton and Allentown tasting rooms give our customers a direct way to try our spirits, learn the best cocktails to make with our spirits, and learn about the people and process behind making each spirit. That experience isn’t something that you can get just buying a bottle at a traditional liquor store.”

But rather than stay close to home in Allentown, they decided to grow their presence in the opposite end of the region, and similar to Colony Meadery, the small business community was a draw.

“We choose Easton due to its location and its growing presence in the greater Lehigh Valley as a foodie and entertainment destination,” he continued. “The silk mill’s history, look and feel, and the other small businesses there made it the perfect location for our tasting room and cocktail bar. Our Easton location is much larger, can accommodate private parties and groups, and has a very relaxed and creative feel. It’s an opportunity for our customers to try innovative and creative cocktails, learn about our spirits, and see the full range of potential of how our spirits can be enjoyed.”