Archives For Uber

I don’t need many excuses to book a weekend trip when the destination is a city I’ve never visited before. This proves exceptionally true if the city lies within a state that I haven’t been to.

Wait and a buddy is throwing his bachelor party there? Click. Click. Booked.

I took a long weekend ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which I’ll be working; usually the norm) to fly west to Denver, Colorado. I did not try a Coors; I did receive a first-class tour of the Breckenridge Brewery though in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. The town is apparently a hot spot for skiing as well but I wouldn’t know; I didn’t ski.


I did try many of the great beers that Breckenridge has to offer. The Agave Wheat, made with all natural agave syrup, was my favorite. It’s lighter as far as craft brews go so it’s a solid choice when you’re thinking of having a few (enjoy responsibly, of course). The Vanilla Porter was heavier but tastier. And the Mango Mosaic Pale Ale had a nice well, twist to it.

My Friday night capped off with dinner at the brewery’s adjacent restaurant before a couple of Ubers took the party back to downtown Denver. I stayed at the Magnolia, a nice boutique hotel that is within walking distance to most of the hip spots in the area – including Fluid, a new coffee bar that opened up right outside and served up a solid pour to kick off my Saturday morning ahead of a 3 mile run.

Thankfully during my less-than-48 hour trip I learned that there are a number of different neighborhoods in Denver worth exploring. Situated south of the Capitol Building in the Capitol Hill section of town is an awesome vegan restaurant called City O’ City. Google describes it as “bohemian,” I would use “earthy” along with “delicious.” The cafe has a couple of great characteristics, one being that its brunch menu can be ordered with or without meat and dairy. For example if I were to bring my parents we could all order the city breakfast; they would just order their eggs normally while I’d ask for scrambled tofu instead.

None of the furniture or mugs match, which adds a certain type of homeliness to the ambiance. Our server was more than patient as I weighed my many food options; I had never been able to choose between so many vegan brunch dishes! I went with the tempeh bacon hash, and the Bloody Marys and coffees I drank paired wonderfully with it.

Oh, I should also mention that I rolled down there with Scott Patrick! I usually see Scott when he visits the city so it was nice to catch up in his neck of the woods.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I rejoined the bachelor party at a restaurant downtown called Baur’s. Most guys went with brunch items and I of course skipped right to the Baur’s signature Bloody Mary, a homemade mix garnished with fresh mozzarella, bacon and olives… for the win!

In between my stop at Baur’s and Blake Street Tavern to watch the first half of the Syracuse/Boston College game, I did stop inside a dispensary. I left thinking how well-done the whole operation is, from the moment you step in through check-out. The staff is thorough and helpful; the environment is clean and welcoming.

And following a Saturday night that included copious amounts of pizza, beer and playoff football, I left Denver thinking those same thoughts about the city and the people who live there.

My first trip of 2017 involved both people and places that I am quite fond of along with a method of transportation that I find very enjoyable.

For me, an outing on Amtrak that is four hours or less is one of the best ways to travel. You don’t have to deal with TSA, the departure and drop-off in the city is right below the radio station, the ticket is usually relatively inexpensive and the trip is pretty comfortable. Amtrak offers decent Wi-Fi free-of-charge, you’re allowed multiple carry-on baggage items and it’s not a hassle to bring food or drink with you on the train, especially given that you’re departing from Penn Station (Don Pepi’s is my go-to and in my opinion, makes one of the best quintessential NY Deli sandwiches in the city).

With that, I grabbed my normal order (2 eggs on a wrap, prosciutto and mozzarella on a roll, bottle of water, small coffee) and walked over to check-in. Amtrak offers e-tickets via an app but I opted for the antiquated paper ticket. Thanks to a complimentary upgrade, I rode in business class on the trip; not the same as a first class plane upgrade. The seats are a bit bigger and more comfortable but not measurably more than coach. You also receive free non-alcoholic beverages with the upgrade, a note I found out after I made my purchase at Don Pepi’s.

My itinerary started at Penn and ended for Friday in New London, Connecticut. Then I hopped a ride to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville to spend the evening, see a few old friends and naturally, lose a bit of money. To be honest, the only thing I left the property upset about was that for my second consecutive trip, I failed to dine at Todd English’s Tuscany, my favorite restaurant in the resort.

Peak-boughieness right now on this blog.

Caught a Connecticut vibe this weekend. @mohegansun, the real MVP.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Saturday a car trudged through the snow and brought me back to the train station, where I rode Amtrak up to the Kingston, Rhode Island station. An Uber brought me across the Pell Bridge to Newport where Cumulus Media was having its annual holiday party.

This party is fantastic for a number of reasons: it’s scheduled after the craziness of the holiday season, it’s held in the Newport Marriott which is gorgeous (just like the rest of that beautiful town), the food is delicious (I love seafood) and most importantly, the crowd is lovely.


A different Uber brought me back to the train station on Sunday morning and I encountered perhaps the most New England Uber experience ever. It had stopped snowing at this point but there is almost no one on the roads; some areas are plowed more than others. I notice there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way and I could really go for one of their coffees (especially given the alternative was to buy one aboard the train; no offense Amtrak). I ask the driver if he’ll stop and he obliges. I then inquire if he wants anything.

“Yeah, you know what? I could go for a coffee,” he responded. “Medium dark, no sugar. Team work, getting the job done.”

You’re damn right. And just like the other people, places and methods of transportation I encountered over the weekend, what’s not to enjoy about that?

Perhaps it was not merely a coincidence that on the week I turn the big 3-0, I interviewed a gentleman that gave me one of the biggest breaks of my young career.

Of course at the time, he wasn’t trying to throw some 20 year-old know-it-all living in Scranton, Penn. a bone; rather he was attempting to help elect Barack Obama to the White House. And we all know how that story ends.

David Plouffe re-wrote the history books and how-to manuals on elections in the 21st century as President Obama’s Campaign Manager in 2008. He now serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the car service Uber. On the app’s fifth anniversary of existence, Plouffe made the media rounds, including a phone call on “Ralphie Tonight,” to chat about the present state of the company and what the future holds for it.

“UberPOOL, our car pooling service, is only in four cities now,” Plouffe explained. That particular feature allows different users to share the same car as opposed to calling separate cars; benefits to the consumer include lower rates. “We want to bring that to as many cities as possible because it’s cheaper transportation, the driver makes more money because they’re always on a trip and it really can help reduce congestion and reduce emissions and pollution.”

Of course in addition to expanding services within the cities in which Uber already operates, the company also has its eyes set on breaking in to new markets, both domestically and internationally. The app can be used in 58 countries – yet many major cities in New York State don’t have Uber.

“One good example is Upstate New York,” Plouffe said (born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., I was quick to refer to my neck of the woods as Western New York). “We’d love to get in to Binghamton and Buffalo and Syracuse and Albany; places by the way that don’t have a lot of public transportation options. We think we can help cut down on drunk and distracted driving.”

Another stated goal of Plouffe’s is to break up the monopolies that taxi and black car companies have in certain cities. Las Vegas was a topic of conversation; both Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate in Vegas starting next month.

“(Monopolies) don’t foster innovation. They don’t serve the public,” Plouffe lobbied. “But what you see is most people who use Uber are making a choice not to drive themselves. So it’s not that it’s a small pie that’s now going to be divvied up between Uber and taxi; the overall pie grows.”

Regarding Vegas, Plouffe said he believes Uber will see business from not just The Strip but the surrounding suburbs; people that he claims can’t access a taxi as easy because they’re all located in one central place.

Oh, and regarding that big career break: I lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania and covered both the Democratic Primary and General Election for my radio station. My perseverance at the campaign rallies paid off: then-Senator Obama’s camp began throwing a number of celebrity surrogates my way. Suddenly this kid who had been in Scranton for just over a year had the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Fran Drescher, Adam Levine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and more calling in to his show. Those interviews gained me national press, which led to my show entering syndication. That set the groundwork for my eventual move to the biggest media market in the country.

“Well that’s a great story,” Plouffe responded when I filled him in. “I’m glad we could provide that opportunity.”
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And you can say that the Wilkes Barre/Scranton market has been good to Plouffe. This past Febraury, over seven years after NEPA helped elect President Obama and Scranton’s own Vice President Joe Biden, the area became the latest to join Uber.

In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, here are a few of the aforementioned interviews from 2008!