Happy Raptor Distilling Announces Plans to Close

New Orleans-based Happy Raptor Distilling announces that its last day of service will take place on May 17. The distillery, which opened its doors in February 2020, specialized in premium rum handcrafted with 100% Louisiana molasses and infused with real citrus, botanicals and whole spices. Its signature lines of 504Rum and 504Syrups have been available for purchase at the distillery’s Central City tasting room, local groceries, bars, restaurants and corner stores throughout the Greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas, as well as in select stores across the United States.

Since 2020, Happy Raptor has contributed over $100,000 in direct funds, goods and services to the New Orleans community, and has worked with over 100 local nonprofits. At the height of the pandemic, Happy Raptor was the first New Orleans craft manufacturer to develop an online appointment system, allowing guests to safely pick up pre-batched cocktails, bottles of 504Rum, and, later, hand sanitizer. By offering deep discounts to first responders and free event options to nonprofits, the distillery built roots with the community during a time when connection was hard to come by. Through regular team trainings and a strict dedication to equity and a non-toxic workplace, it was able to provide a daringly transparent, inclusive and women-led environment, providing a welcoming space for tens of thousands of guests and dozens of team members of all backgrounds and orientations.

“We are devastated to say goodbye to this special company, and this incredible team of people,” said co-founder Meagen Moreland-Taliancich. “We named this company after our son, and he’s grown up alongside it. When we look back, we’re very proud. We created a space of comfort during some of the hardest years our community will ever experience, and we had the means to help and take action for others when everything felt hopeless. We hope we made a difference. All we can say is thank you to the families, partners, and friends who believed in us.”

During the pandemic, Happy Raptor was awarded a substantial recovery grant by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program Congress authorized through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Unfortunately, they were counted in only 2% of businesses nationally that never received the grant after funds ceased due to political disagreements. After Hurricane Ida, Happy Raptor re-opened for business only three days after the storm, running on generator power and traveling to Mississippi daily to collect ice and food, which were provided to the community free of charge daily until the neighborhood returned to power. On Bacchus Sunday 2023, a deadly shooting on the parade route resulted in a traumatic experience for Happy Raptor guests and team on-site. The company closed on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras Day to ensure safety and provide time for mental health support. Financial recovery from this loss was immediately followed by the hottest summer on record, a continued substantial dip in tourism, and the development of generally empty Airbnb’s in the blocks surrounding the distillery’s tasting room.

“We’ve been on the brink of profitability since the day we opened. We’d reach out to finally touch success, and then another disaster. We finally realized that the cavalry isn’t coming. The resources to support small business in Louisiana are like a drop of water on an elephant’s back,” said co-founder and chief distiller Mark Taliancich. “We were told by many friends that we were crazy to say yes to every nonprofit that knocked on our door, but it was the smartest choice we made. With tourism at all-time lows and no budget for advertising, our partnerships with nonprofits and community leaders have kept our doors open. And more than that, those partnerships elevated our tasting room to one of the finest cocktail spots in the city. Nonprofit partners are our strongest sources of long-term customer loyalty and engagement, and our numbers show that clearly. We have no regrets.”

Since 2020, Happy Raptor products have earned a number of highly distinguished local and national awards, including The Gambit’s #1 Distillery in New Orleans (2021, 2022, 2023), the Love Your City Culture Award (2021) and Equity Award (2022), Best of Show at the American Advertiser Awards (2020), Bike Easy Community Partner (2022), The National World War II Museum Garden to Glass Competition Best of Show (2021) and Most Unique (2022), as well as bronze, silver, and gold medals at the American Bartender Spirits Awards. Through her strategic business development, branding and cause marketing initiatives, Happy Raptor’s co-founder and chief brand officer Meagen Moreland-Taliancich was named a Biz Magazine New & Notable and Biz New Orleans 500 (2021) and spearheaded the company’s final major award – a gold medal at the American Craft Spirits Association’s Craft Spirits Packaging Awards.

Happy Raptor will complete its final “run” on the still during the week of May 6. All remaining 504Rum and 504Syrups products – including 504Hibiscus, 504Bananas Foster, 504King Cake, 504Gold and 504Coffee – are available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis until all stocks have been sold. The distillery’s assets, including the custom still, fermenters, distilling equipment, shelving, décor, furniture, bar, cabinetry, heaters, shed, chairs, tables, and more are also available for purchase. Happy Raptor will remain open for tasting room operations at limited hours until May 17, or until all assets have been liquidated. The turnkey Happy Raptor brand and trademark packages (including all digital elements, design graphics, logo, website, social media, and branded materials), as well as federally approved recipes, are also available for sale.

For more information on Happy Raptor’s closing timeline and to grab your final bottles before they sell out forever, visit 504rum.com or follow @504Rum on Facebook or Instagram. If you are an entrepreneur or manufacturer interested in the purchase of distillery equipment, brand and trademark packages, and/or recipes for all 504Rum and 504Syrups products, please contact Mark Taliancich via email at mark@happyraptor.com.

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