Cidery to open in west OKCPublished: Monday, January 14, 2019 By: Molly M. Fleming Source: The Journal Record
By summer, the city will have two cideries in operation.
Cider Theory will open at 1515 N. Portland Ave., in the same building as Aunt PittyPat’s Catering. Cider Theory owner Christine Howell-Dowd also has ownership in the catering business, but she’s selling her stake to open the cidery.
The 10,000-square-foot building will be divided into two suites so the catering company and the cidery will have separate addresses.
Howell-Dowd had to get the building rezoned from commercial and office to a simplified planned unit development. The rezoning application was approved at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting.
The city recently changed its zoning regarding alcohol. In the past, an alcohol-type user would have to get zoned for alcoholic-beverage sales, which was permanently attached to the site. If a restaurant selling liquor closed, a nightclub could go in and not have to get a rezoning application approved.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Janis Powers had often carefully considered alcohol-related zoning because it was attached to the site, and she was often the first to cast a no vote on an alcohol-related zoning change.
But under the new alcohol-related zoning, the cidery and taproom is a use under the SPUD, rather than being permanently zoned as a cidery and taproom.
During Thursday’s meeting, Powers smiled when she had a chance to speak about the SPUD.
Howell-Dowd said she was told to meet with Powers before the Planning Commission meeting, so the two women met for coffee and Powers drove by the building a couple of times.
“I’m kind of excited about this,” Powers said at Thursday’s meeting, adding that she’s not a beer drinker.
Howell-Dowd told The Journal Record that she started making cider because she was getting burned out on beer. She was part of the Red Earth Brewers homebrewing club and she served as the club’s president.
“I couldn’t drink any more beer,” she said. “I just drank so much beer, so I thought ‘What other fun should could I do?'”
She had that question answered when a woman showed up with a truckload of apples. Howell-Dowd emphasized that it was a Ford F-150 truck filled with apples, and the woman was ready to get rid of them.
Howell-Dowd made as many pies as she could. But the apples sat for a couple of weeks, so she used a juicer and mixed the juice with some white wine yeast. She liked the result and has been making cider ever since.
She touted her cider in November at OK Bio’s annual Brewfest, where OK Cider Co. was also serving its cider. OK Cider will open in downtown this spring.
“We’ll all be doing it differently,” she said. “(Cider Theory) will be straightforward cider. We’ll do it the classic way.”
She said since the SPUD was approved, she’ll start working more on getting the operation opened. She’ll order her equipment and start building out the space.
She said she’ll start by selling products in the taproom, then send kegs to restaurants and bars. She said she’s going to try and get her product out similar to Coop Ale Works’ model. She’ll create a can or bottle demand by having the product in restaurants first.
She’ll be getting apples from St. Joseph, Missouri and other surrounding states. She’s looking for apples or fresh juice rather than using concentrate. She’s planning to reach out to cideries in neighboring states so they can create a network like the breweries. A cidery in Tulsa will open soon as well, she said.
“Competition makes everyone stronger,” she said.