While many restaurants were scaling back or closing down during the pandemic, Nashville-based Big Woods Restaurant Group made the decision to expand and the move appears to be paying off. The company says it will open a Big Woods restaurant, its tenth, and a Hard Truth Distilling bar kiosk at the Fashion Mall at Keystone next spring. Big Woods has also opened restaurants at Purdue University and Indiana Premium Outlets mall in Edinburgh.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, BWQOHT Inc. co-founder and partner Jeff McCabe explained what’s driving growth.

“We knew our back was against the wall. We felt like we were either going to succeed or fail in this. And if we were going to fail, we might as well go big. And if we were going to succeed, we might as well go big,” said McCabe. “We just pushed forward, and it worked out.”

In addition to the restaurant at the Fashion Mall, McCabe says Hard Truth Distilling Co., a sister company of Big Woods, will open a kiosk to sell its lineup of whiskey, rye and vodka in the mall’s food court.

But the company’s growth plans go beyond Indiana. Right now, the premium spirits are available in 10 states. McCabe says that reach is about to double.

“In the next several months we’ll be distributed in 22 states with Hard Truth. And it’s this is another great opportunity to introduce people to Heart Truth in a big way,” said McCabe.

McCabe says the company’s beer unit Quaff On! Brewing Co. is also experiencing growth, a sales increase of 27%.

In just seven years, Hard Truth Distilling Co. has grown from an empty room at a pizza parlor in Brown County to one of Indiana’s largest places to experience premium spirits. Now, it is a destination, sitting on 325 acres. McCabe says it attracted 600,000 visitors this year.

“We’re able to bring all three brands to life really. We think about the campus is kind of a living expression of the brands,” said McCabe. “You can come here [and] if all you wanted to do was take a walk in the woods, you could do that. If you’re here to eat and drink and experience, you can do that too. The family’s welcome to come. And we’ve got some tour options… like the ATV tours and that kind of stuff. So, a little bit of everything.”