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WNY craft brewers partner with Lyft to expand access and business

Avery Schneider

Western New York is already a well-known hub for craft brewing, distilleries, and bars, but how people are getting to their favorite watering holes is changing thanks to a partnership with ride-hailing.

The challenges of public transportation, overflowing parking lots, and the general desire for patrons to come and go safely has driven the Buffalo Niagara Brewers Associationto officially partner with ride-hailing platform Lyft. Even before ride-hailing was approved across upstate New York this summer, the association was working with Lyft to figure out how to increase business for both organizations. “We obviously see a natural synergy with breweries and bars because we want to make sure people get home safely. Safety is our number one priority,” said Sara Lasner, Director of Community Affairs for Lyft.

John Cimperman, BNBA member and owner of East Aurora-based 42 North Brewing said his brewery has seen an uptick in business from ride-hailing patrons, including those from as far away as Lewiston and the Southern Tier.

“Craft breweries are destinations,” said Cimperman. “Yes, we have strong locals that walk there, which is great. But on any given Saturday, we have folks that are coming in from the entire region.”

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Jeff Ware, owner of Resurgence Brewing (left) and John Cimperman, owner of 42 North Brewing (right)

For Resurgence Brewing Owner Jeff Ware, ride hailing is about accessibility to what he calls “emerging places” – neighborhoods like Niagara Street on Buffalo’s West Side, where his establishment is.

“Niagara Street three years ago was not on the radar. People are still learning about this neighborhood,” said Ware. “It opens these neighborhoods up because it’s more than just getting home safely. It’s knowing that you can go to these neighborhoods with a safe and reliable ride, and then get home from that neighborhood safely and reliably and not be abandoned somewhere.”

New users are being encouraged to download the Lyft app, using the promo code “BNBA.” For every new download, the Brewers Association gets a $10 “finder’s fee” that will go towards growing the organization, and each user gets four $5 credits towards rides.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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