It was 11:47 a.m. on a Wednesday, and Tops Markets President and COO John Persons was drinking beer.
But he had a good reason: a special brew called “Cheers to 35 Years Kellerbier,” made in honor of Buffalo’s annual culinary festival, the Taste of Buffalo, and the news that the event was getting even bigger for its 35th year.
“We are very proud to sponsor an event that brings together … the very best food and drink that Buffalo has to offer,” Persons said during a news conference in a Tops Market on Elmwood Avenue.
As part of this year’s celebration, the Taste of Buffalo is expanding north on Delaware Avenue past Chippewa Street to Johnson Park, event officials announced Wednesday.
Rich McDermott, chairman of the festival’s committee, said new restaurants, food trucks and wineries will participate or return from hiatus July 7 and 8. They include A Gust of Sun Winery & Vineyard, Alex’s Place, Carmine’s, Dirty Bird N’ Waffles, Niagara Café, Ru’s Pierogi and Souped Up.
New vendors will be located in the Taste of Buffalo’s expanded space past Chippewa Street, McDermott said.
During the news conference, McDermott also inducted Louie’s Original Footlong Hotdogs as a “silver fork” of the Taste of Buffalo.
Angelo Turco, owner of Louie’s and son of founder Louis Turco, said his restaurant has been at the Taste of Buffalo since the festival start in 1984.
“You don’t understand how difficult it is to prepare, and execute, and finish every year,” Turco said of annual event.
Restaurant owners have to work the two-day festival and make sure their normal business’ operation remains on track. It’s tough, Turco said.
Regardless, Turco said the event is a staple of Buffalo’s history and always fantastic to attend.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for ... restaurants like us that have been around for decades and decades, to new restaurants that are just starting off,” Turco said.
Scott Shuler agreed. He’s a partner and head brewer of 12 Gates Brewing Co., the Williamsville-based producer of the festival’s Cheers to 35 Years Kellerbier.
The festival’s special beer is a German-style lager recipe of Adam Akers, who won the Taste of Buffalo’s homebrew competition earlier this year. 12 Gates Brewing Company is selling it at the event.
“We really jumped on it. It was a great opportunity for the brewery, because we’re less than 3 years old,” Shuler said of the festival, before grabbing a glass of beer.