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PLANS FOR BREWERY ARE ON TAP IN EDEN CANADIAN GROUP DRAFTS PROPOSAL TO PURCHASE OLD CANNING PLANT

A group of Canadian investors hopes to revive the Buffalo area's beer-making tradition by opening a brewery in Eden.

Nicholas Galati, a Toronto realty agent and developer, said he plans to begin making specialty beers by late October in an old canning factory. The enterprise, known as Eden Springs Brewing Co., would be Western New York's first major brewer in years.

"Eden is the perfect place for our operation. The town's name lends itself to our beer, which will be all natural, with no chemical additives," Galati said.

He estimated that $2.5 million to $3 million would be needed to purchase bottling equipment and brewing apparatus. The company is in the process of buying a 125,000-square-foot factory at 8800 Main St. in Eden.

The brewery plans to occupy between 40,000 square feet and 60,000 square feet of the factory, the former home of National Can Corp. The remaining space would be leased to other companies, Galati said.

Owning a brewery has been the Canadian's dream for several years. About 15 months ago, Galati teamed with Vivian C. Jones, a Welsh brew master, and Victor Cortiula, a Toronto builder and developer.

The three initially thought of locating the brewery in Niagara Falls, Ont., but after comparing the costs of doing business in Canada versus the United States, they decided to settle in Western New York.

After several deals to locate the brewery in Buffalo fell through, the businessmen selected Eden.

"This is the best place we could have ended up with. It's close enough to Buffalo, and it's clean and crisp -- just like the beer we hope to make," Galati said.

The businessman refused to disclose the brand name his beer will use, pending approval of a copyright application. He said he hopes to sell his products throughout the United States first and then begin exporting to other countries.

"This isn't going to be mass production," he added.

William A. Feasley, supervisor of the Town of Eden, said he was pleased about Canadian investment in his community. He noted the brewery eventually will employ between 40 and 50 people.

"It appeals to me that it (beer making) would be coming back to the area," the supervisor said.

Buffalo has a long tradition as a beer producer, stretching as far back as 1830. Beers with names like Beck's, Lang's, Simon Pure and Iroquois ranked Buffalo as an important brewing center.

The death blow to Buffalo's beer industry was delivered in the 1950s, when larger breweries like Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Miller Brewing Co. launched nationwide advertising campaigns and began buying up their smaller competitors.

The city's last brewery, William Simon Brewery, closed in 1972, followed by the Fred Koch Brewery of Dunkirk, the last in Western New York, in 1985.

Jones could not be reached to comment, but his wife, Pamela, said her husband plans to make "a good ale, a good lager and probably a good light beer."

Galati and Feasley stressed that many details remain to be worked out. Most notably, Eden Springs Brewing Co. must close its deal to buy the former canning factory and gain approval from the local zoning board and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We'll have to wait and see how it plays out," the supervisor said, explaining he doesn't foresee any problems.

Don Crowe, economic development chairman for the Eden Chamber of Commerce, said the new company would give the community a major economic boost. The enterprise also may encourage tourism through brewery tours and beer tasting.

Eden Springs Brewing Co. would be the region's first major beer producer, but not its only local brewery.

Kevin Townsell, the owner of brew pubs in Rochester and Amherst, has said he plans to open a microbrewery just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Buffalo Brewing Co. would be located in the former John's Flaming Hearth restaurant at 1830 Abbott Road in Lackawanna.

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