Buffalo’s first self-serve taproom makes debut in Buffalo’s Theatre District

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A new taproom has made its debut in Buffalo’s Theatre District – and it’s a first-of-its-kind concept for the Queen City.

Pour Taproom is located at 490 Pearl St. in the former Cabaret space. The concept is a self-serve bar, where guests can help themselves from 56 taps of beer, wine, and hard cider.

“The space is kind of ‘come-at-your-own-pace’,” co-owner Joe DiCenzo said. “We kind of just wanted to be a place where people can just come and hang out for a bit and try a bunch of different beers.”

How does the self-serve concept work?

Guests open a tab at the front of the bar when they arrive and are given a VIP pass or wristlet with a QR code. They can scan the code at any of the taps and their pours are charged by the ounce to the tab.

“You can try one ounce of something and pay maybe 35, 40 cents for it,” co-owner Matt Prime said. “If you like it, you can pour a pint, if not, you can move on to something else.”

Guests can also use the QR code to order from the menu, which includes bar-friendly fare like appetizers, chicken sandwiches, and burgers.

Guests get an itemized printout of their purchases at the end, so they can have a record of which brews they tried, Prime added.

The owners compare the concept to a beer festival.

“It’s kind of that feel, you can come in and just try something you’ve never had, or if you want to just stick to one beer, you can,”  DiCenzo said.

The beer offerings are a mix of local and regional, Prime explained – and the kegs are constantly rotating.

“Out of the 56 taps, probably 30 are different than they were last week,” DiCenzo said. “We put a new one on last Saturday at 3 p.m. and it was gone by 7 p.m.”

Last weekend was Pour Taproom’s opening – and they went through over 30 kegs, Prime said.

“We had to run out and get more because we thought we were going to run out,” he laughed. “The City of Good Neighbors is showing its true colors – it’s been great.”

There are other Pour Taproom locations across the country, in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Santa Cruz. According to the website, they’re not a franchise, but a “group of friends and family with small local businesses in different cities throughout the Southeast and California”.

Prime and DiCenzo happened on a Pour Taproom in Greenville, South Carolina three years ago while recuperating from a backpacking trip.

“We stumbled upon one and we walked in through the doors and it was like the heavens were shining on the place,” Prime laughed. “We couldn’t ask for anything better to relax from a trip like that.”

They had the idea to bring the concept back with them to Buffalo.

“We were thinking with everything going on in Buffalo right now, with beer and how awesome it is here, it just seemed like a really good idea,” Prime recalled.

They got the lease to the Pearl Street building in February 2020 – shortly before the pandemic shutdown.

“We got nervous, ‘are we going to be able to do it?’,” DiCenzo said. “We put a bunch of work into it and got it going.”

Now they’re open for business with a busy theater season coming up.

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“I think the timing is really good – Shea’s is opening in September,” DiCenzo said. “Coming out of the pandemic, people are looking for something new and different to do and we have that.”

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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