Inaugural kickoff party offers taste of Restaurant WeekWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
About 300 people gathered in Downtown Toledo on Feb. 19 to get a taste of the upcoming Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT).
Response to the inaugural kickoff party, which sold out, was overwhelmingly positive, said RWT co-chairs Margot Estes and Becca Gorman.
“It was a phenomenal event,” Gorman said. “The restaurants really brought their ‘A’ game. People were raving about the food and were busy making plans for how many restaurants they can visit next week. The kickoff event allowed us to showcase what people can expect from Restaurant Week Toledo and it was clear that people can’t wait!”
The fourth annual RWT, featuring 30 locally owned restaurants, is set for Feb. 24 through March 2. A portion of proceeds will benefit Youth Leadership Toledo and Students in Action, two youth programs of Leadership Toledo.
Among the food served at the kickoff event was the Junkyard Dog and falafel salad from Burger Bar 419, penne and meatballs from Caper’s, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and ICE Bites (beef tenderloin tips) from ICE Restaurant and Bar, braised short ribs over wild mushroom risotto from La Scola Italian Grill, hummus and grape leaves from The Beirut and Poco Piatti, baby lamb chops from Rosie’s Italian Grille, Stuffed Chicken New Orleans from TREO, curried chicken salad on greens from The Café at The Oliver House, fried goat cheese ravioli with sherry gastrique from Element 112 and grilled grouper with sprout slaw from Registry Bistro.
There was also a coffee and dessert station, featuring pour-over Madcap Coffee from Plate 21, coffee and mini cinnamon muffins from Black Kite Coffee and petits fours from The Café at The Oliver House.
Area distributors offering wine and craft beer were Ampelography, Bowling Green Beverage, Cavalier Distributing, D&E Fine Wine Group, Grand Cru, Premium Beverage Supply, Tramonte Distributing, Treu House of Munch and Vintage Wines.
“We are thrilled with everyone’s comments and reaction to the kick-off,” Estes said. “The general consensus was people were amazed by the restaurants and what they brought as a sample. They loved the vibe of the Secor Building. A lot of people were saying, ‘This is so hip!’ I overheard people saying, ‘It feels like I’m in Chicago or New York City,’ so that was neat. I heard people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing; let’s make plans to go out next week.’”
Participants of Youth Leadership Toledo and Youth In Philanthropy Encouraging Excellence (YIPEE) served as volunteers at the event, including setting up, checking coats, working the check-in table and passing out menus.
TREO general manager Nate Schank said he thought the event went well.
“We thought it was a great event. It was a great way to get our menu out there and help people get an idea what they can expect at Restaurant Week Toledo,” Schank said. “We definitely drew in a lot of people with our food. We had people coming back for seconds. We’re excited to have a good turnout for the week and hopefully raise a bunch of money for Leadership Toledo.”
Emily Wagy, general manager at Caper’s, also called the event a success.
“I thought it went really well,” Wagy said. “It was a lot of fun and good exposure for restaurants. We got some very good comments and people came back for seconds. We went through all our food. Each restaurant had their menu displayed and it was a good opportunity to really generate some excitement in people about where they are going to go next week.”
Estes said people seemed to enjoy the wine and beer distributors as well.
“They added a great element to the night where people were trying all these foods and then could go over and learn a little about wine and beer,” Estes said. “They said people were really interested and engaged in learning. They said people asked a lot of questions and wanted to explore and be adventurous.”
Lindsay Myers, executive director of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, said she had a great time at the event.
“It was a blast,” Myers said. “There was really good energy in the room, with music playing and great food. All the restaurants had different dishes that showcased things you might not normally order there, so that was cool. And there were a lot of good local wine and beer distributors.
“It was nice to see all those people come out and support Restaurant Week Toledo,” added Myers, a member of this year’s adult Leadership Toledo class. “I think it really got people talking about it and got the word out on social media.”
Myers said Rosie’s, La Scola and Burger Bar 419 were among her favorite dishes and she was also excited to discover restaurants she’d never heard of.
“Everything was really good,” Myers said. “I really enjoyed the lamb from Rosie’s. I would definitely make more of an effort to go there. I’ve never been to La Scola and they had a really good dish. Burger Bar 419 had a really good sandwich.”
Max Reddish of Reddish Printing in Toledo said the event gave him incentive for checking out some restaurants he normally wouldn’t.
“I kind of have a problem with leaving the Downtown area, so having a taste of some of the more suburban restaurants that are out there definitely made me want to venture out to the outskirts,” Reddish said.
Reddish said his favorite dish of the night was Rosie’s.
“Rosie’s was pretty damn good,” Reddish said. “I think that one was my favorite.”
Estes said organizers plan to host the event again next year.
“It was definitely a win,” Estes said. “We got so much great feedback from everybody, from the restaurants to the distributors to the patrons that came.”
Participating RWT restaurants are 5th Street Pub, Avenue Bistro, The Beirut, Black Kite Coffee, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), The Café at The Oliver House, Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Element 112, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Korea Na, La Scola Italian Grill, Loma Linda, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Mancy’s Steaks, Packo’s at the Park, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Shorty’s True American Roadhouse, social., The Original Tony Packo’s, TREO, Ventura’s and Zinful Tasting & Taproom.
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of RWT.
For more information, visit www.restaurantweektoledo.com.
Tags: Avenue Bistro, Black Kite Coffee, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Element 112, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Korea Na, La Scola Italian Grill, Loma Linda, Mancy's Steaks, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Packo’s at the Park, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT), Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie's Italian Grille, RWT co-chairs Margot Estes and Becca Gorman, Shorty's True American Roadhouse, social., th Street Pub, The Beirut, The Café at The Oliver House, The Original Tony Packo’s, Toledo Kick-Off Event, Treo, Ventura’s and Zinful Tasting & Taproom