With COVID-19 cases surging again, and portions of Western New York designated as yellow and orange zones, and some on the warning track to become red zones, our area bars, breweries and restaurants are again shuttering their doors in the face of an uncertain future. Just as it was a few months ago, it is now more imperative than ever to drink, shop and support local to ensure the future of these establishments. That’s a long way of saying that this Small Business Saturday (November 28) is the most important one yet.

Orange zones call for no indoor seating, and with colder weather already upon us, outdoor seating won’t be a viable option for long. A red zone designation would mean takeout and delivery only.

Why shop and support local? It’s simple. Money spent local, stays local. It creates jobs, pays wages and local taxes, all while supporting our community. Flying Bison Brewery Owner and Godfather of Buffalo beer Tim Herzog explains.

“Money spent at a local brewery supports manufacturing jobs, which pay living wages to people living in your neighborhood. More of each dollar spent at a local brewery stays in our state and city. Money spent on internationally owned beers goes to other states and other countries, and let’s be honest, to big ad agencies and media outlets. The money you pay for Flying Bison beer pays for wages, taxes, malted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stop by on Saturday — please!”

Resurgence Brewing President Jeff Ware says that one area of worry for local small business is the loss, or reduction of, holiday revenue, which props them up for the winter months, which are normally lean.

“Small businesses, like Resurgence and our other local brewing friends, have been hit very hard by the pandemic. With bills to pay and no relief in sight, every dollar spent locally helps to make sure your favorite places are still here this spring! Holiday revenue usually helps us get through the winter months, which will be the toughest we have ever seen. So if you have the means, make the rounds and buy some local beer.  It will taste even better knowing you are helping your local brewers weather the storm!”

Big Ditch Owner Matt Kahn echoes Ware’s sentiments.

“Without a federal stimulus, and going into what would have been the busiest month of the year followed by the slowest months of the year, the potential losses over the next three months will be worse than what we saw from March through June. Our local breweries and restaurants are sadly going to lose a ton of money,” he says.

These struggles aren’t just confined to breweries, bars are feeling the pinch of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions as well. Bobby Rabb, who owns Elmwood staple and Buffalo watering institution watering hole Mr. Goodbar, says that small businesses provide a special feel for customers that’s hard to replicate.

“Shopping local and supporting local is always important, especially during these trying times,” he says. “More money that is spent locally means more money to those in our own backyard. During the first COVID-19 shutdown, I saw the importance of this more than ever. Small businesses give you that personal feel that you can’t get anywhere else. You know and see the owners. You’re even friends with them and some cases know their families. It’s something really special that cannot be replicated in any other way.”

And so are restaurants.

“A product made in town will help support a local family, from a pizza (or a Pod!) to a Chevy, to a can of local beer,” Pizza Plant Owner Dan Syracuse says. “Currently with our orange zone situation, consider take out from a local restaurant, and beer direct from a brewery BEFORE you head to the grocery store! Some monies stay local when you shop at the familiar big food stores, but not nearly as much as a locally owned restaurant, which are often the low hanging fruit that gets picked to be shuttered, even though they have much stricter COVID-19 guidelines than  the big box food stores.”

Oh, and while you’re shopping local for Small Business Saturday, remember to raise a pint and drink local for Small Brewery Sunday (November 29).

“This is the perfect time to shop local,” Rusty Nickel Brewing President Jason Havens says. “The holidays are upon us, and your support allows us to keep area residents (friends, family, colleagues) employed, revenue earned returned into the local economy…The impact of your support is unmeasurable.”

“Now is important to support local because people’s jobs and livelihoods are on the line. Order takeout, add some drinks to go (because let’s not take that for granted), and stay safe and smart so we can get our numbers down and reopen again,” Hydraulic Hearth Owner Harry Zemsky adds.

Small Business Saturday beer specials:

Resurgence Brewing

1250 Niagara St. (381-9868) and 55 Chicago St. (768-6018)

4-pack of crowlers for $20, 2-pack of crowlers for $15. Custom holiday case of 24 16oz. cans and 1 22oz. bottle for $89. Click here to order.

Flying Bison Brewing

840 Seneca St. (873-1557)

Enjoy 25 percent off cases of bottled beers (mix & match).

Community Beer Works

520 7th St. (759-4677)

Case of Let’s Go Pils with Cranberries (24 16oz. cans) for $50, create your own case sale (24 cans of Let’s Go Pils, That IPA and The Whale) for $30. Order for delivery or curbside pickup.

West Shore Brewing Company

10995 Main St. Clarence

Mixed Case Sale ($68) features 2 4-packs each of King Edward Porter, Imperial Bavarian Cream Donut Stout, and Green Flyer IPA. Also, Stupid Sexy Flanders (Oud Bruin) crowlers ($12 Single, $22 2-pack).

Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).