Happy Raptor Distilling to Close Permanently on May 17

NEW ORLEANS — Happy Raptor Distilling has announced that its last day of service will be May 17. The woman-owned distillery, which opened its doors in February 2020, specialized in rum made from Louisiana molasses and infused with citrus, botanicals and whole spices. 

504Rum and 504Syrups have been available for purchase at Happy Raptor’s Central City tasting room (1512 Carondelet Street) and in grocery stores, bars and restaurants in south Louisiana and elsewhere.

In a statement announcing the closure, Happy Raptor co-founder Meagen Moreland-Taliancich said the business has contributed more than $100,000 in direct funds, goods and services to the New Orleans community since its launch in 2020. It also has collaborated with more than 100 local nonprofits.

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She said she and her husband/partner/chief distiller Mark Taliancich forged connections with the community by offering deep discounts to first responders and free event options to nonprofits. She said the business was committed to “equity and a non-toxic workplace” and it provided 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,” Moreland-Taliancich said. “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.”

In her letter breaking the news, Moreland-Taliancich listed some of the challenges that brought the Happy Raptor era to an end.

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The said the business was awarded a recovery grant via the Restaurant Revitalization Fund during the pandemic, but the money ultimately was never delivered. Then came Hurricane Ida, which brought more disruption. On Bacchus Sunday 2023, a deadly shooting on the parade route resulted in a traumatic experience for the distillery’s guests and team on-site, said Moreland-Taliancich. The company closed on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras Day to ensure safety and provide time for mental health support. This was followed by the hottest summer on record and a continued substantial dip in tourism, which translated to empty Airbnbs in the blocks surrounding the distillery’s tasting room.

“We’ve been on the brink of profitability since the day we opened,” said Mark Taliancich in the May 6 statement. “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 businesses in Louisiana are like a drop of water on an elephant’s back.”

Since 2020, Happy Raptor products have earned a number of local and national awards. Meagen Moreland-Taliancich was named a Biz New Orleans magazine “New & Notable” and she was included on the magazine’s list of the city’s 500 most “influential, involved and inspiring” executives.

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Happy Raptor will complete its final run on the still this week. 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 are also available for purchase. These include a custom still, fermenters, distilling equipment, shelving, décor, furniture, bar, cabinetry, heaters, shed, chairs and tables. 

Happy Raptor will remain open for tasting room operations at limited hours until May 17.

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.

“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,” Mark Taliancich said. “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.”

For more information on Happy Raptor’s closing timeline and to grab your final bottles before they sell out forever, visit www.504rum.com or follow @504Rum on Facebook or Instagram.

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