Waterloo Region’s only Farm Distillery & Kitchen
Willibald expands from spirits to sustenance

by Helen Hall
Kitchener Citizen
November 8, 2018

The food at the Willibald Farm Distillery & Kitchen is so local, they’ll soon be serving beef raised on the same property and butchered on the same road.

The Willibald Distillery at 1271 Reidsville Road in Ayr opened in April 2017 by brothers Jordan and Nolan van der Heyden, and Cam Formica. It is one of 34 small, craft distillers listed in Ontario and sells barrel-aged Willibald gin, and is working on a whiskey that won’t be ready for a couple years.

The “& Kitchen” was added in September of this year.
Chef Byron Hallett came to Willibald in August from the craft beer bar Arabella Park on Belmont Avenue in Kitchener.

​“The big focus here is on all things being handcrafted,”
Hallett said. “From the spirits to everything in the kitchen.”

​Hallett said the menu changes as the season’s change, using whatever is “fresh.”

Two items always on the menu are woodfired pizzas and farm sourdough.

Nolan van der Heyden said the woodfired oven never gets shut off, it just varies in temperature as it is used to cook different things.

“We just go to the back of the barn to grab firewood for the restaurant,” he said.

Hallett says it is “all about the quality” of the food at the restaurant, and as much as possible it is created in-house, including honey, pickles and cured meats.

The restaurant seats 38 and is open Wednesday to Friday from 5pm to 10pm, and on Saturday from noon to 10pm.

The three founders of Willibald came up with the idea of starting a craft distillery and restaurant after university. Nolan, an engineer, does most of the distilling. Jordan and Cam bring their university business and marketing skills to Willibald. The business was opened in a former dairy barn at the van der Heyden farm.

Willibald gin is now available in 80 LCBO stores in Ontario and at some restaurants and cocktail bars in Waterloo Region.

And how did they come up with the unique name Willibald? It turns out it is also as local as the food they put on the table.

It is the middle name of Richard Feicht, the van der Heyden boys’ grandfather, who lives on Wrigley Road, just up from the distillery.

Family history says that Feicht wasn’t very fond of his middle name, but is now proud to see it on his grandsons’ growing business.

For more information on Willibald, visit www.drinkwillibald.com.
The Willibald Distillery in Ayr added a restaurant in September that serves local food and seasonal vegetables. With a charcuterie board and some appetizers are, from left: head chef Byron Hallett, Mike Gibner, and Chad Mccord. Photo by Helen Hall

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