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Canadian businessman to build liquor distillery in Wheatfield

A Canadian company plans to build a new liquor distillery in a Wheatfield industrial park with the aim of reducing costs as he focuses on U.S. customers.

Leon Safir of Anat Inc. said he intends to produce as much as a truckload of whiskey and vodka per day, creating five new jobs, at a site his company has purchased in the industrial park off Lockport Road.

"For me, because I'm using alcohol from the U.S., I can save money on logistics," said Safir, explaining why he wants an American plant.

He also said he'd like to make some of his output available in a retail store on the premises. That could include a new apple vodka he hopes to begin producing next year.

"We want to buy local apples," Safir said.

Safir said he intends to keep his 10-year-old Toronto location open to serve the Canadian market, but U.S. customers are his main focus.

"Ninety percent of my customers are in the states," said Safir. Those customers include a company that produces a private-label brand of liquor for the giant Costco retail chain.

"We can propose a reasonable price – not the lowest price, because our quality is pretty high," Safir said.

He plans an 8,000-square-foot, $500,000 building in Vantage International Pointe, the industrial park controlled by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, off Lockport Road in Wheatfield. The plant would be designed to be expandable if the business grows.

Last week, the IDA board approved Safir's purchase of 2.78 acres of land along Lockport Road for $41,000. Safir signed the contract Tuesday.

Susan C. Langdon, the IDA's director of projects and finance, said the lot Safir is buying is the last one available in Vantage, a 159-acre industrial park the county has been striving to fill for almost 20 years after acquiring it in a foreclosure.

Safir said he is eager to get started with his project.

"My idea is to be building it in a month, as soon as I can get the building permit," he said.

He said he also intends to apply to the NCIDA for tax incentives. Langdon and Andrea Klyczek, the IDA's director of regional and international development, said they expect an application to land on the IDA's agenda in the next month or two.

Klyczek said she was under the impression that a retail store would be a long-range addition to the business. Safir said he would like to start the retail and the distillery together, "if it's possible."

Langdon said as long as the store covers less than 30 percent of the building, it wouldn't run afoul of the ban on IDA incentives to retailers.

Eric C. Tudor of Tudor Collins Commercial Real Estate, who brokered the deal, said the U.S. location will be called Sanborn Distilling Corp.

Safir said some of the brands his company produces are Glamorgan whiskey and 49th Parallel vodka, the name of which is a nod to the line of latitude that marks most of the U.S.-Canadian border.

A critic in Wine Enthusiast magazine last year gave 49th Parallel 92 points out of 100, calling it a "robust, corn-based vodka that hints at cacao, plus a slight raspberry-jam fruitiness."

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