Mild temperatures, St. Patrick's Day weekend and the NCAA Tournament— it is the perfect storm for business in Buffalo.
Two staples of the Cobblestone District, The Labatt Brew House and The Draft Room, are hoping the festive weekend provides a big boost as Buffalo slowly starts to emerge from the pandemic.
For the first time in two years the beer is back flowing at the Labatt Brew House on Perry Street.
"We are super excited to have our fans of Labatt come back into our brew house," says Jason Folaron, the Brand Manager for Labatt. "It's a great place to just sit and hang out with family and friends."
The 3,000 square foot brewery and tasting room originally opened in the fall of 2019 before being forced to close because of the pandemic.
"It's really tough. We enjoy being a part of the Buffalo community. Labatt is a huge presence here. It's our number one market," says Labatt Brewmaster Ryan Brady. "This entire experience, when we built it out, was to be customer facing One on one that is even more deep than buying the beer in a store or a bar. Not having that the last two years has been really tough."
To celebrate the reopening, Brady has concocted several new specialty beers including a Chocolate Stout, a Mango Guava Sour, and a Hazy IPA. Of course, Labatt Blue and Blue Light will also be available for thirsty Buffalonians and the thousands of basketball fans in town for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
"We are expecting a big crowd," added Brady.
Also looking to tap into the Madness of March is The Draft Room, located inside the same building as the Labatt Brew House on Perry Street— just steps away from the tournament at Key Bank Center.
"We have a great space here," said Marc Honan from The Draft Room. "Ten-thousand square feet. Always a good atmosphere. We have every game you want to watch."
After being closed for close to 20 months, The Draft Room reopened last fall. Honan says the NCAA Tournament crowd will be a much needed shot in the arm for business.
"One word: awesome," says Honan. "It's not just having sixteen thousand people at the arena. So many people come in and support March Madness. Alumni and donors. People that have never been to Buffalo before and for us to be able to put our best foot forward to represent the city in a positive way, come in here and have a great experience. It's going to be exciting."
The hope is that the momentum from the big Buffalo weekend continues as things slowly get back to normal.
"As we start to see the transition into offices. More people back in here having lunch, staying after work, grabbing a bite to eat and happy hours. That's what we see on the horizon," added Honan.