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Local restaurateurs and tourism officials think beer may be the key ingredient in luring visitors to downtown Buffalo.

A group of downtown restaurant operators and tourism officials said Wednesday they hope a marketing program built around the Buffalo Brewery District, comprising two existing and potentially two other craft breweries in the downtown area, will help lure more tourists to the restaurants and hotels around Main Street.

“Craft beer is so popular,” said Earl Ketry, the founder of Pearl Street Grill & Brewery who developed the Lofts on Pearl hotel in the Webb Building. “My goal isn’t to grab somebody from Clarence, but to grab someone from Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Youngstown.”

As part of the initiative, developed in connection with the Binational Alliance, participating hotels and restaurants are offering cross-border overnight packages that include winery and craft brewery tours. The initiative also is developing a new reservation system that “will make it easier for tourists to see what we’ve got,” said Arlene White, the alliance’s executive director.

The initiative also includes efforts for tourism sites on both sides of the border to promote their venues through other participants in the venture, White said.

The Pearl Street Grill and the recently opened Pan-American Grill & Brewery in the renovated Hotel @ the Lafayette currently are the two craft breweries in operation downtown.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com