BELLEVILLE – A group of local restaurants wants to rekindle an appetite in visiting downtown.
The inaugural Taste of Downtown event hopes to replace the bad taste left in many residents’ mouths after many months of construction in the city’s core with much tastier fare.
Close to a half dozen restaurants will be providing a sample of what they have to offer during intermission of the New Year’s Eve show at The Empire Theatre. “We thought rather than just us try to put on some food, why not get the downtown folks out to participate,” said Mark Rashotte, the theatre’s owner.
With more than 500 people expected to attend the New Year’s Eve performance by All You Need Is Love, Rashotte said it’s a perfect showcase for the close to half-dozen participating restaurants. “All you Need is Love is going to be partying like it’s 1969,” said Rashotte, who also performs in the band. “We’ll be doing lots of rock n’ roll from what we say is the best year ever in rock n’ roll with…,” he said, listing off iconic bands The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Neil Young. “I mean, it’s some really just great songs that came out of that year and a few surprises that people have never heard before because we’ve gone through the list of what all the big songs were. “We’ve had a lot of fun putting that together.”
Between the two sets show goers will be given the opportunity to sample light fare from downtown restaurants like Café E, Nice Ice Baby, Chilangos Mexican Restaurant, Jim’s Pizzeria, Gourmet Diem and Mr. Zed’s Subs and Burgers.
“There’s a lot of people who haven’t been downtown for years,” said Tim Hennig, owner of Nice Ice Baby and Urban Herb Cartering. “With the construction going on a lot of people kind of got scared to come down. They didn’t know what streets would be closed. “Now the streets are open and they look beautiful… they’re clean and inviting and we’re hoping other shops open up as well downtown to invite people down.”
Nice Ice Baby will be providing various ice creams and sorbets for the evening. “We want to see more and more of these events happen throughout the year so we can promote ourselves and others, and get people walking downtown because it’s a beautiful space.”
“It’s going to be so good,” said Tina Cormier of Jim’s Pizzeria, adding their restaurant will be providing slices of pizza.
“There’s so much going on down here. Downtown is really expanding, there’s new shops. There’s lots of flavours to taste downtown, there’s Mexican, there’s Italian, there’s Greek, there’s Canadian. There’s so much food here and it’s so good.”
Abraham Ramos, one of the owners of Chilangos — who will be providing nachos and salsa as well as Mexican desserts — said the event was an “excellent” idea. “This is an excellent opportunity for us to be well-known around the Quinte area.”
“We’re going to make home-cut fries for 300 people, I guess,” laughed George Zamanis, the owner of Mr Zed’s. “It’s a lot of potatoes.”
The event is the brainchild of Café E’s Bren Foran, who will be providing mini sandwiches for the evening.
“After having a year of construction it’s kind of nice to be able to spread the wealth around and include everyone,” she said. “Instead of leaving it all to one place to try to cater, let’s get everybody involved. “A lot of the fine dining will be incredibly busy because everybody will be going to dinner there first and then coming here. So we’re taking the hor d’oeuvres part of the New Years party. “I think it’s great that they’re all on board and highlighting what they do.”