May 8, 2024 - Business

Happy Raptor Distilling to close: "The cavalry isn't coming"

Photo shows four people standing in front of the exterior of Happy Raptor Distillery.

Co-founders Mark Taliancich, Meagen Moreland-Taliancich and Peter Rivera stand outside Happy Raptor's building with Zeek Taliancich. Photo: Courtesy of Happy Raptor Distillery

Happy Raptor Distilling is shutting down operations at the end of the month, the owners confirmed this week.

Why it matters: It's an early start to the restaurant and bar closures that usually come amid the summer slowdown in New Orleans.

What they're saying: Happy Raptor's founders cite back-to-back disasters for their closure, starting with the pandemic then hurricanes, power outages, extreme heat and low tourism numbers.

  • "We've been on the brink of profitability since the day we opened," wrote co-founder Mark Taliancich on the company's website. "We finally realized that the cavalry isn't coming."

The big picture: The distillery's fate is reminiscent of several other New Orleans businesses, including Marjie's Grill, Le Chat Noir, Mucho Mas and Seafood Sally's.

  • The reasons varied for those closures, writes Axios' Chelsea Brasted, but they included low tourism numbers, economic woes and other struggles.

What's next: Happy Raptor stopped distributing its products and will sell whatever's left at its Central City distillery, according to the company's website.

  • Its tasting room will close May 17 with a bon voyage party from 7-9pm, Meagen Moreland-Taliancich tells Axios.
  • Operations will end May 24. The founders say they have been working to get employees jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the company says the distillery and Happy Raptor brand are for sale.

Context: Happy Raptor opened in February 2020 and sells its 504Rum and 504Syrups at the distillery and in bars, restaurants and stores in New Orleans metro, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

  • It also has a tasting room and event space at the distillery.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: The headline previously had calvary instead of cavalry. It has been updated.

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