A first since Prohibition: a Buffalo-area brewery will expand to a neighboring city.
Flourishing since its 2015 opening on South Transit Road in Lockport, New York Beer Project has made the most of its $3+ million built-from-scratch facility, brewing a wide range of beers, hosting regular events, running a full-service restaurant and becoming a destination for a still-crazed craft-beer market.
According to a lengthy report by Will Cleveland of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, NYBP has agreed to be the major tenant in developer Fred Rainaldi Jr.'s build off of High Street in Victor, a suburb southeast of Rochester.
A tentative opening date is late 2018 or early 2019, the report said.
From the Rochester article, Rainaldi's plans include a multi-level 15,700-square-foot building with NY Beer Project contributing a restaurant, indoor beer garden, smaller brewery than the Lockport location and a rooftop terrace beer garden, which will distinguish the Victor spot.
The expansion's origins were "serendipitous," in the words of co-owner Kelly Krupski, who received an unexpected message from Rainaldi inquiring if NYBP would be interested in working together.
"We were sitting in a snowstorm in Victor - we were taking our daughter to [SUNY] Geneseo - when the email came," Krupski said. "We were actually looking outside at the project site."
Krupski envisions substantial collaboration between the Lockport and Victor sites, with brews from the Rochester-area brewery appearing often on the Lockport beer list and vice versa. The employees from the Lockport location will train those at the Victor brewery-restaurant, the co-owner confirmed.
Another idea under consideration is a friendly competition between the brewery's two sites over which location consumes the most signature beer, such as the Lockport Lager at the original, with proceeds benefiting the town of the respective winner.
New York Beer Project's success in Lockport unquestionably played a role in Kelly and Kevin Krupski's decision to expand.
"We were pleasantly surprised at its popularity," Kelly admitted. "There are a lot of breweries in Buffalo, but people are still willing to make the trek outside of the city to Lockport - even though it's not that far," she finished with a laugh.
"Usually it's Buffalo drawing people from Niagara County," she continued. "But we've gotten Buffalo to come to Niagara County."
As Cleveland mentions in his news item, the Krupskis have attracted curious customers from far and wide - Ireland, even - but there's been an impressive contingent that's trekked the 90 minutes from Rochester.
While NYBP is the first of the new-Buffalo breweries to expand its physical footprint outside the market - although other breweries, such as Big Ditch, distribute product to Rochester - Rochester-based Black Button Distilling branched out to Buffalo, opening a tasting room at 149 Swan St. last March. Black Button does not distill from the downtown Buffalo location, though.