Feb 11, 2021 - News
How the first Black owner of a distillery in the U.S. is grappling with dual crises
Chris Montana

Chris Montana’s Du Nord Craft Spirits faced double pain this year. The pandemic shut down his cocktail room and, just as he was getting ready to reopen, his business was severely damaged during the riots after George Floyd’s death.

What's next: Montana, the first Black owner of a distillery in the U.S., told Nick during the Smart Take event that he is pouring his energy into supporting Black and brown business owners as Lake Street rebuilds.

"We're trying ... to get more BIPOC owners out there into the community and visible in the community. So people can look up and say, 'You know what, that's not some distant business community. Those are our people.' So when when that anger blows over, it won't get directed at our business corridors. Instead, we'll go perhaps to a more constructive place, which is pushing for political change."

What's next: Montana's Du Nord Foundation has raised nearly $1 million to help minority small business owners hurt by the civil unrest. He's also working to build a business incubator for people of color and women.

  • Montana, who grew up on Lake Street, is looking for a space for a new distillery and cocktail room.

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This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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