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Published: Thursday, 3/7/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Dishcrawl puts the eat in meet and greet

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Brenda Woods is hoping this is a recipe for success:

Take four downtown Toledo restaurants, find 40 fun-loving people who enjoy great food, mix in a few large dollops of social media to get things cooking, and voila, it’s the city’s first Dishcrawl.

The event is taking place Tuesday and is part of a trend that is stretching across the country thanks to the Dishcrawl concept, which started a few years ago among foodies in California. The "rolling food parties" have taken place in the last month in Royal Oak, Mich., Madison, Wis., and Birmingham, Ala.

The idea is pretty simple: Anyone who is interested goes to a Web site and signs up after word of the event is put out on Facebook and Twitter. In Toledo the cost is $45 (which covers taxes and tips) and participants will be told 48 hours in advance via email what four restaurants will be featured and where to show up first.

Then they enjoy a night of sampling the place's signature dishes, mingling with like-minded people, and meeting the restaurant owners or chefs. After about 45 minutes or so the group walks to the next restaurant for more of the same. The whole thing takes about three hours.

"It's a good night for a restaurant to bring people in on a Tuesday night," said Brenda Woods, who is organizing Toledo's event. 

"I've had a lot of people say it's a great first date idea, a great date night, or just a chance to do something different."

The restaurants are not announced in advance, but Ms. Woods revealed that The Blarney on Monroe Street near Fifth Third Field will be on the tour. "It's like a pub crawl, but with food. We get four different restaurants on board, all within walking distance of each other," she said.

A 36-year-old mother of two whose family moved to Toledo so that her husband could live closer to his job, Ms. Woods said the Dishcrawl concept is ideal for her.

"It took three things I love: great food, community, and social media and it put them all together."

She said Tuesday's event will start at 7 p.m. and the restaurants will offer tasting portions of their dishes rather than entrees so that people don't get too full. Participants can buy their own beverages and the Dishcrawl will conclude at a local dessert restaurant that features homemade treats.

One key element of the concept is that only locally owned establishments are included. Ms. Woods said that if the Toledo version works out well, similar Dishcrawls could be organized in other parts of the city and in suburbs such as Maumee, Perrysburg, and Sylvania.

Part of the fun is meeting new people as you go from restaurant to restaurant, she said.

"This is all about bringing a spotlight on local restaurants, but of course as the people go along and attend they're also really connecting with each other," she said. "It's a very community-focused event. They're wearing name tags, they're walking as a group and going from place to place and meeting their community."

The maximum number of people that can attend Tuesday's Dishcrawl is 40 and spots remain open, Ms. Woods said.

For more information or to sign up go to dishcrawl.com/downtowntoledo/ . Information also is available at Facebook by logging in and going to dishcrawltoledo and on Twitter at @dishcrawltol.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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