Living through coronavirus: Middletown distillery shifts to hand sanitizer, ‘overwhelmed’ by sales

When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine closed the bars earlier this month to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, a West Chester Twp. couple knew they had to shift their business model.

Mike and Debbie Dranschak opened White Dog Distilling Company on Central Avenue in Middletown 16 months ago and they realized the retail bottle liquor business wouldn’t be enough to keep them open.

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“We got worried how are we going to survive like everybody else,” Debbie Dranschak said. “We didn’t want to fall through the cracks.”

Exactly the opposite has happened.

The Dranschaks followed the formula specifications from the World Health Organization and started bottling hand sanitizer that contains ethyl alcohol, pure glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and water.

“This is keeping us going so we don’t lose everything,” she said. “We can breathe a little bit. Now we have hope.”

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In the first three days, they sold more than 700 one-half-gallon plastic jugs of hand sanitizer for $17.50. She said AK Steel has been the “biggest customer” and they’re getting requests from other businesses about filing their orders.

Jeff Payne, executive director of Downtown Middletown Inc., applauded the Dranschaks for “being flexible and filling a need.”

A line of customers stretched outside White Dog Distilling and down Central Avenue Saturday and Sunday. At times they’ve been unable to keep up with the “overwhelming” demand, she said. When they sold out Friday, she went outside and took orders from those in line. They restocked that night and Saturday morning and called those customers back and had them pick up the sanitizer at the back door.

They limited the sanitizer to two bottles per customer. Now it’s one per customer. They started getting calls for orders this week at 6 a.m. Monday.

She described customers as “desperate and scared” and said she hates the look on their faces when she tells them to come back later because the sanitizer is sold out.

Another downtown Middletown business has helped White Dog’s success, she said. Digital Visuals Inc. makes the labels for the sanitizer bottles and when they ran out Saturday, she called and ordered more and it was filled Sunday.


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WHAT: White Dog Distilling Co.

WHERE: 1357 Central Ave., Middletown

HOURS: 4-8 p.m. Thursday-Monday

CONTACT: 513-800-3411

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