By Lois Ann Baker / CORNWALL STANDARD-FREEHOLDER
CORNWALL, Ontario – A new festival aimed at socializing and culinary appreciation is about to begin in Cornwall.
For the first time, the Seaway Summer Food Festival will be held for five days, July 15-19, at a number of local restaurants. The concept of the festival is for those five days, after 4 p.m., each participating restaurant will have a special menu offering meals at the same price as the other restaurants involved, either $22 or $28 for three courses.
“It’s a pretty popular concept,” said organizer Sebastien Maniget. “They do it in other cities. It actually started in New York and they have the biggest one in the world. Over 2,000 restaurants participate.”
Maniget said the organizers of this event are trying to make it attractive for consumers who can see it not only as a real bargain, but if a restaurant is normally out of their budget range, this gives them the chance to try it out at a reasonable rate.
“It’s a good initiative to get consumers out, but it’s also good for restauranteurs to reach more people,” he said. “So far the response is good, especially from the restauranteurs.”
Maniget said the menus and pricing information is made available to the consumer now so they can decide ahead of time where and what they want to eat. All the information is at www.ssff.ca.
“By exploring it (the website) they get to check out the restaurant, check out the menu and make reservations directly with the restaurant,” said Maniget.
The festival participants are locally owned restaurants as chain restaurants can’t always make the decisions necessary to be included in the event.
“We wanted to promote locally owned businesses,” said Maniget. “It’s about locally owned business and the people behind it. I don’t have something against chain restaurants, but when you get to that point, especially with the big franchisees, they can’t make the decisions locally. Will they be participating in the future, possibly.”
So far, six restaurants have signed up for the festival, Schnitzels, BarQ, Truffles, Moustache Joe’s, Eight Zero Zero and Casa Paolo.
“We were hoping to get more, but it’s the first year and it’s a new concept for a lot of people,” said Maniget.
Maniget said he got the idea of holding the festival from attending food festivals in other cities.
“I’m a big social person. I love to eat and go out. When I moved back here I saw a lot of things changing. A lot of people going out, but still not much of a culinary scene and not much going on downtown. I started thinking how can we capitalize on this.”
The week will end with a beer garden at the Nav Centre on Saturday night where people will get a chance to try a variety of beers, have a few snacks and socialize.
“It’s going to be fun. Relax with good music, good people. It’s really an opportunity for people to try beers, but also to get in that summer mood outdoors,” he said. “It’s not something that’s fancy or extravagant, but it’s new and good for people who are looking to do something different this summer.”
“We are hoping it (the festival) will bring people out to maybe try a restaurant for the first time or reconnect with an old favourite,” said Maniget.