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Brooklyn Duane Reade Wins Over Locals With Beer Bar

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Growler bottles sit on shelves at the Duane Reade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo/Marla Diamond, WCBS 880)

Growler bottles sit on shelves at the Duane Reade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo/Marla Diamond, WCBS 880)

diamond_feature Marla Diamond
I began my career at WCBS in the fall of 1997 as the station's New...
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Williamsburg. Your neighborhood drug store now has a beer bar.

After facing opposition shortly after its opening, the Duane Reade on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn took to an innovative approach to win over some locals — draft beer.

The drug store opened a bar featuring nine local, craft and imported beers. The store also features refillable dark glass growler bottles and holds weekly tastings.

Sam Backer has tried all of the offerings that are on tap at the store. Backer told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond that the concept was “definitely unique” and that the beer was “pretty good.”

WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond says only in Williamsburg can you grab a draft beer at Duane Reade.
In a hipster, yuppie neighborhood where bloggers tried to stop the chain from coming, the bar is the store’s way of fitting in.

“I think Duane Read is, to me,…evil, but at least they are making an attempt, then fine,” one resident said.

“I think as big chains go, they’re doing they’re best. It’s good to try to notice what the neighborhood wants and if they can do it, it would make me more interested in shopping there,” another resident said.

The bar idea certainly took yoga instructor Lisa Vandegrift by surprise.

“I thought it was weird when they actually added even the food — like the grocery store,” she said, “why would you go there, like go to a bar. There are so many good bars around here.”

New Yorkers shouldn’t expect a bar in all their Duane Reade stores. The company said the offering was only for its Williamsburg store.

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