With a little over a week until A Taste of Derby, the Chamber of Commerce is making final preparations for its biggest annual event – which will have a different look and feel in 2020.
Instead of having various local restaurants congregate at The Venue in Madison Avenue Central Park, attendees at this year’s event will go forth to those Derby dining destinations, which will play host to a more mobile version of A Taste of Derby from 4 to 9 p.m. Nov. 5.
Having the restaurants bring attendees on site is a facet a number of participating businesses are looking forward to this year.
“Most of them are actually more excited about this because it lets them control the quantity of food they make and they can keep the food a little bit fresher,” said Chamber President Mark Staats.
“It’s easier to get a better representation of your product when they eat it in house versus having to take it somewhere and trying to keep it warm,” said Pizza John’s manager Jason Roby.
Pizza John’s – and pizza places in general – have been more welcoming of the new format. The Derby staple is participating once again while Domino’s is being added to the fold as well. Additionally, a few more restaurants have been added to the roster since the initial announcement of this year’s event.
Anyone interested in attending A Taste of Derby will need to purchase a lanyard online at derbychamber.com prior to the evening of Nov. 5, with those lanyards available for pick-up at the Derby Welcome Center (611 Mulberry) the night of the event. Derby’s Welcome Center will be a launchpad, too, as at least two participating businesses will be set up to pass out samples there.
“They need to start here because we’re actually going to have a couple places inside the Austin Room that will be providing food samples – Truly Amazing Catering and Rock Regional Hospital’s cafeteria,” Staats said.
So far, Staats noted around 200 lanyards have been sold. Along with those, attendees will also pick up a map at the Welcome Center outlining all the participating restaurants they can visit.
With the new format comes a lot of flexibility for restaurants, but Staats noted the Chamber of Commerce is still looking to engage attendees as well. That is why there will be a text trivia competition held through the night – with a number of $50 gift cards secured as prizes. There will also be a couple of Facebook live events at participating restaurants to draw traffic.
On top of that, an online raffle launched last week leading up to the event, with the prize being a total of $375 in gift certificates to A Taste of Derby businesses such as Casa Martinez, Derby Wine and Spirits, Drury Lane, Little Busters and Pizza John’s. Tickets are available for $5 at the chamber website and will be sold through Nov. 5 – or until the 200 ticket allotment runs out.
Depending on how the event goes, Staats noted the chamber may choose to continue the new format for A Taste of Derby next year, but staff didn’t want to have too many moving parts as they continue to adapt in year one.
Given the excitement Staats is seeing from participating restaurants and those who have purchased lanyards, he is interested to see how the mobile format plays out in 2020. Roby views it as a way to perhaps boost public support for the local dining scene, while Staats admitted the set-up this year will definitely be to the advantage of hungry foodies.
“If you do not get full during this event, it’s your own fault, because there’s going to be a lot of food out there,” Staats said. “It’s just a matter of getting through all of [the restaurants].”
“Thankfully, throughout this whole thing, we’ve done very well. We’ve not really experienced much of a slowdown; business has been fantastic; community support has been great,” Roby said. “Hopefully, everything’s been so crazy over the last six months, this will give people a little bit of an incentive to get out.”