A former NBA player joined the ownership group of a Kalamazoo distillery that includes local G-League affiliate president Steve Jbara.
NBA Hall of Famer and retired Detroit Pistons center/forward Ben Wallace, who now is basketball operations and team engagement adviser for the Pistons, has joined the ownership team of Steve Jbara and Scott Benton at Kalamazoo-based Green Door Distilling.
“Steve, Scott and I have been friends ever since we partnered together on the Grand Rapids Drive, now Grand Rapids Gold,” Wallace said. “They are building something special with Green Door Distillers. I am also looking forward to being involved in the ongoing revitalization of Kalamazoo and bringing some attention to the work people are doing. I’m going to be unveiling my own branded spirit, too, so look for that this summer.”
Jbara and Benton said they are “more than a little excited” about Wallace joining Green Door.
“I’m so thrilled to be working with Ben on this project,” Jbara said. “His competitive history and hard work ethic will no doubt help us grow Green Door into a Michigan craft leader.”
Benton added the three have “worked on a number of companies together” in the past and “found great balance and success in those endeavors.”
“I look forward to putting Green Door on the map in the state of Michigan,” Benton said.
Located at 429 E. North St. in Kalamazoo, Green Door Distilling was founded in 2014 by Josh Cook and was the first distillery to open in Kalamazoo since 1858. Its products are distributed across the state of Michigan.
In 2021, the distillery claimed double gold for its Blueberry Liqueur and bronze for its Botanical Gin at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, also winning gold for its amaro and bronze for its vodka from the American Distilling Institute and bronze for its Botanical Gin from the American Craft Spirits Association.
In 2022, the distillery took home gold medals for its Cider Cask Finished Bourbon and Botanical Gin and silver medals for its amaro and blueberry liqueur at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.