Lufkin business owner hopes new distillery brings new business t - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lufkin business owner hopes new distillery brings new business to downtown

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

1900's Lufkin looked a lot different than today. The days of prohibition are gone with new business popping up, including the soon-to-be "Love Distilleries", located in the 100 block of E.Lufkin Avenue.

"It's a neat project," business owner Bruce Love said. "It's good economic development and it is a neat addition to what they are already doing to a fantastic job downtown."

The distillery will be the first of its kind in Lufkin, manufacturing hard liquor but don't expect to be able to grab a bottle.

"Lufkin is in a dry county so there is no vending of spirits here," Love said. "The only thing we can do is give away one one-ounce sample."

Getting to last night's first reading by city council was not easy. Love first had to convince city and county leaders it would be ok to put a distillery in a place that is dry when it comes to hard liquor.

"Part of the process with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Committee was if Lufkin is in a dry County, the city clerk and county clerk had to sign off on allowing a distillery inside Angelina County limits," Love said. "There was a lot of discussion back and forth between the city, county judge, the economic development director and the TABC as to whether a distillery could be opened in a dry for liquor county. It was a lengthy process and during the time we worked through that we stored the equipment in the garage."

Love said the process then hit a bump in the road.

"There has been no moonshining incident. The stories that ran have been a little misleading," Love said. "First of all, we support the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Committee folks. They have a hard job to do. We support all law enforcement. It's a family project; one that we started with my brothers and my dad. The TABC made the ruling that I was in illegal possession of the commercial distillation equipment."

Last March TABC agents raided love's home where the commercial equipment was stored. Love said he felt like it was wrong and law enforcement was misinformed on the legality of the equipment.

Sheriff Greg Sanches told KTRE today that he could not comment on love's statement.

"We were only used that day as a support role for the TABC," Sanches said. "It was their case."

The TABC has also stood by their decision in taking the equipment.

According to the Angelina County court records, on Feb. 13, Love pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of possession of an illicit beverage and equipment to manufacture.

Love said he feels innocent but agreed to the charges.

"We took to the attitude that it was like going 56 miles per hour in a 55 zone," Love said. "They got a tough job to do so we went ahead and paid the fine and continue to move forward."

Love says the family hopes that in the next five to six months they will have the business open and ready to go.

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