Take another Taste
Downtown merchants and restaurants teaming up again
By Angel Roy firstname.lastname@example.org
Pairing up with local retailers Wednesday, Sept. 15, local restaurateurs hope to remind everyone that Manchester is a dining destination.
“The more [restaurants] do together, the more we get that sense of community — that restaurant community feeling — guests will start to think about driving to Manchester to have dinner,” said new 900 Degrees executive chef David Smith, of the Taste of Downtown Manchester. “It is important for people to know that Manchester really is a dining destination.”
Now in its seventh year, the Taste of Downtown Manchester will be held Sept. 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. This year 23 Manchester restaurants and 23 retailers have been paired up by Intown Manchester to showcase the city’s offerings.
“The focus is always about highlighting our downtown businesses,” said Samantha DePrima, Intown Manchester’s director of marketing and public relations, in an interveiw via e-mail. DePrima said event goers should expect a “friendly, welcoming atmosphere” filled with good eats, great people and live entertainment.
“Not only is this a fun event and one that draws 1,000 people to the Elm Street area in one night, we feel it is important that we continue to produce the event and use it as a marketing tool for downtown businesses … I always run into people I haven’t seen in years on the street during this event and it’s wonderful to see people out exploring what downtown Manchester has to offer,” DePrima said.
The event, DePrima said, was originally mirrored after a similar one once held in Nashua, and though Intown Manchester was established to maintain services and supplement beautification to the central business district, the organization has realized the importance of marketing a viable downtown area.
“Intown Manchester felt that such a high-profile cross-promotional event would directly benefit two of our biggest constituents — downtown restaurants and merchants,” DePrima said. “It’s a simple event that is always a hit.”
Ticket sales cap at 1,000 and DePrima said the event comes close to selling out every year.
It is seeing those 1,000 people that Kristine Rioux, manager of The Wild Rover, looks forward to the most about the pub’s participation in the event.
“It’s a fun time,” Rioux said. “You get to see a lot of people that you see regularly and see a lot of people that you haven’t seen for a while.”
The Wild Rover will be serving its spinach and cheese dip, made with pepper jack, at Copy Express during the event and will also present another yet-to-be-determined sample item, Rioux said.
“It will be a surprise that night,” she said.
900 Degrees, paired with Downtown Nails & Spa, will be serving assorted bruschetta and caprese skewers at the event, Smith said.
The bruschetta, Smith said, will not only be topped with tomato and basil, but also with olive tapenade and wood-roasted vegetables. The caprese skewers will be of the traditional tomato, mozzarella, olive oil and basil sort, he said.
It will be the wood-fired pizza spot’s third year participating in the event, said 900 Degrees general manager Jamie Logan.
“When opening this place we figured it would be a blast to do,” Logan said. “It’s just fun to get your name out there.”
Another longtime event participant, Milly’s Tavern is also on the bill to present some of what general manager Ken Bergeron calls some of its top menu items — some microbrew selections, oatmeal stout beef stew and brewhouse chili, also made with oatmeal stout — at wedu.
“It’s awesome,” Bergeron said of the brewery’s Taste of Downtown Manchester selections. “Really good stuff.”
The event, Bergeron said, not only brings people to the downtown area but also increases community awareness of off-Elm Street dining spots.
“A lot of people don’t know we exist down here at the Millyard …. This just lets people know about us,” Bergeron said.
Rioux echoed those thoughts.
“It is all about exposure,” Rioux said. “It isn’t like we’re not known, but if you don’t have face time with people outside of your establishment, with so many restaurants and new establishments going in downtown, it is very easy to just get forgotten about to a degree.”
The Red Arrow Diner will prepare one of its menu “staples” for the citywide food fiesta, said Andrea Sullivan, assistant general manager. The diner’s homemade American Chop Suey will be served at Harris Trophy during the event.
“For the people that eat at the diner regularly, it might give them a taste of something they haven’t tried, and for the few people that haven’t been in, it gives them a taste of what we offer and will entice them to come in and try things,” Sullivan said.
Participating in the culinary celebration, Sullivan said, also allows the pairings of local restaurants and businesses to learn more about each other.
“We get to know what they do, what their specialties are, what they have to offer and they get to know a little more about what we serve and offer,” Sullivan said.
Tickets to the Taste of Downtown Manchester may be purchased for $20 at Intown Manchester. Tickets will be available the day of the event for $25.