Brunswick restaurants gear up for 1st outdoor dining festival
BRUNSWICK — Nearly 20 local restaurants will converge on the town green June 20 to show off their cuisine during the town's first dining festival, The Taste of Brunswick.
Back Street Bistro will serve chilled soup, the Great Impasta a lobster BLT, Bangkok Garden spring rolls and Pad Thai. Dinners can sample crab cakes from Scarlet Begonias, or Zweibel Kuchen, a German onion cake, from Richard's. They can also try two different curries from Bombay Mahal, an Indian restaurant, or chow beef skewers from Bacari, another Maine Street eatery.
The dining will be al fresco beneath a large tent, rain or shine.
And there will be beer and wine, courtesy of Sea Dog Brewing Co. (and the Town Council, which earlier this year granted a license for the event).
The event, a joint venture between the town and the Brunswick Downtown Association, is designed to showcase area restaurants. But organizers have another motive – survival.
The scheduled 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station has prompted town officials and the BDA to channel new effort into supporting local businesses. Officials worry that base closure, along with the economic downtown, will be a double-whammy for local restaurants and shops.
The businesses are just as concerned. Local reaction to last year's shuttering of mainstays like Grand City Variety and Bookland continues to reverberate.
Jennifer Banis, owner of 111 Maine Street, in March told the Town Council that local restaurants have been trying to organize a event like The Taste of Brunswick for years. It was needed now more than ever, she said.
"We're the ones on the front lines of base transition," Banis told the council.
Amanda Similien, who works for the town's Economic and Community Development Department, said the goal of the event is to lure visitors by promoting Brunswick's wide range of restaurants.
"We're really just trying to showcase all that Brunswick offers," Similien said. "We want to create a festival atmosphere."
Three bands will play during the event: The Jerks of Grass, King Memphis and Stream.
And so far, it looks like organizers got the timing right. The festival coincides with two large events, a youth soccer tournament and the St. John's Bazaar. The convergence of activities has Similien hopeful that ticket sales will increase at the gate; advanced sales, she said, have been a little slow.
"I think a lot of people are waiting to see what the weather is going to be like," she said.
Similien said most restaurants were "really excited" about participating. Each paid $200 to participate, and gate proceeds will be split between the BDA and Mid Coast Hunger Prevention.
The event begins at noon and ends at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $5 if purchased in advance and $7 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. Advance tickets can be purchased online at tasteofbrunswick.com, or by by visiting Mid Coast Hunger Prevention, Key Bank on Maine Street, Hannaford, 111 Maine and Riley Insurance Agency.
Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org