If all goes well, Murray businessman Steve Evans hopes to have his company's new single-serve juice and vodka drinks for sale on liquor store shelves throughout the U.S. in early 2013.
Evans, president of VM Nutritional, Inc., is seeking a conditional use permit Thursday night from Murray's Planning Commission to allow his liquid dietary supplement manufacturing business at 79 W. 4500 South to begin packaging the unmixed cocktails in up to 10 juice flavors.
According to Murray Community and Economic Development Manager Chad Wilkinson, the business involves innovative packaging of a mixed drink product, but the alcohol will not be produced by the Murray-based business.
"It's not a distillery or brewery," Wilkinson said.
Evans said the company plans to produce bottles of all-natural juice, with a separate compartment for an ounce of vodka. When a customer purchases the product, they combine the ingredients together before drinking the cocktail. He said he is in the process of obtaining a patent for his product's unique packaging.
Because a controlled substance is involved, Evans said state and federal permits and approvals are required as well.
However, that extra effort could be worth it. VM Nutritional, Inc. suffered sales slumps through the recession and Evans hopes the happy-hour health drink will give his business a welcome shot in the arm.
"We'll end up employing 12 to 15 more people" and even more if sales go well, Evans said, adding that he has a patent pending on the product's proprietary bottle.
Since 2006, Evans's business has occupied space in Murray zoned for manufacturing. In March, the planning board approved alcoholic beverage manufacturing as a conditional use in such zones.
Murray's planning staff has recommended granting his permit as long as Evans complies with building and fire codes, maintains adequate parking and properly encloses trash containers outside his business.
Later this month, Evans hopes to snag the required permit from Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that would allow his company to fill the proprietary packages with vodka.
Evans has already applied for the necessary federal approvals as well, which can take up to 90 days to process. He hopes to begin manufacturing using Utah-based packaging and products by early fall.
Alcohol is tracked, accounted for and heavily taxed, Evans added..
"Our biggest concern will be with the feds, that what we take in, alcohol-wise, matches what we put out," Evans said. "We don't want kids to get it, and we don't want employees walking out with it."
Murray to consider alcohol manufacturing business
The city's Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at 5025 S. State St. to consider several conditional use permits. Among those requests, VM Nutritional, Inc. seeks approval to package single-serve juice and vodka drinks that will be sold to liquor stores throughout the U.S.