MEDINA, Ohio — In a matter of two years, BKO Distillery in Medina has gone from a chaotic grand opening right before the start of the pandemic to expanding its operations based on its recent success.
Founded by Brad Kochmit and Ken Obloy, BKO Distillery opened its doors on Feb. 20, 2020. A few weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ohio and the state shut down.
"It was the weirdest, craziest way to start a business," Obloy explained.
When the distillery first opened, the pair made and gave away 14,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
Since then, the two have expanded their operations, with their Voudoux Vodka now in 130 bars and restaurants and 65 liquor agencies in Northeast Ohio, plus expanding distribution out of state into Oklahoma and southern Florida.
"In the first year, we hit our five-year goal," Kochmit said.
What should have been a story of survival quickly became an alcohol odyssey for these two.
"It’s like riding your bike except everything is on fire all the time," Kochmit added.
The distillery expanded to 7,000 square feet for its operation in the past year and added new distillation equipment.
"It’s a monster," Obloy explained. "It’s something that looks like it's out of Willy Wonka."
"It’s like going from a go-kart to a race car," Kochmit added.
This comes as the two say they continue to deal with rising costs due to inflation and shipping issues.
"[One ingredient] was given a 9% increase from our supplier, and I was told we're going to get another 9% increase soon," Obloy said.
BKO Distillery is located at 1486 Medina Road #215 in Medina.
"Every time you set a goal and achieve it, it gives you confidence to get to the next one," Obloy added. "We’re crazy enough and ambitious enough to keep setting it higher and higher."