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J. Rieger & Co. Apparel and Gifts
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Jacob Rieger immigrated to America from Goritz, Austria/Hungary in 1877 with his wife and two children. After moving to Kansas City and opening a grocery store in the early 1880s, by 1887 he was already on to his newest business: making booze. Jacob Rieger founded J Rieger & Co. in the West Bottoms neighborhood, the West Bottoms during that time was the central hub of KC. Around 1900, 13 years after founding J. Rieger & Co., Jacob turned over operations to his only son, Alexander Rieger. During Alexander's time in charge, J. Rieger & Co. claimed to be the largest mail-order whiskey house in the country, boasting a customer base of 250,000+! Due to the prohibition, J. Rieger & Co. began to cease to exist and the family was forced into banking until the 1980s. That same decade Andy Rieger, Jacob Rieger's great-great-great grandson, was born in Kansas City.
It wasn't until April 2010, 90 years after the onset of Prohibition, that the idea for bringing back the historic distillery was dreamed up by Ryan Maybee, a Kansas City bartender who opened his bar Manifesto in the basement of the Rieger Hotel building the year prior. Fascinated by the history of the building, Ryan discovered its connection to the historic J. Rieger & Co. distillery and from that point, was dead set on ensuring it was resurrected. In December 2010, Ryan partnered with Chef Howard Hanna to open a new restaurant, aptly named The Rieger, on the main floor of the Rieger Hotel building. On opening night, Andy Rieger, who was at the time the only living Rieger of Jacob's bloodline, walked in to meet the owners and thank them for honoring his family's name through their restaurant. While Andy and Ryan's accounts of what happened next vary, what they both agree on is that after a brief introduction, Ryan casually said to Andy, we should bring back the old distillery.
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