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By MATT CRANE
From March 18-24, Starkville residents and visitors will have the opportunity to mix good food and a great cause as the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau hosts the first Starkville Restaurant Week benefitting a local charity.
In an effort to promote Starkville restaurants, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO and Vice President of Tourism Development Jennifer Gregory said the weekâ€™s aim of making a positive economic impact on local restaurants and the community has two components.
â€śWe are asking participating restaurants to submit a prefixed menu that showcases that restaurantâ€™s unique flair and qualities by highlighting their most popular items or introducing new dishes,â€ť she said. â€śThe charity component is filled as diners eat at our local restaurants during this week and every time they dine at a participating restaurant, they can vote for one of the top three local charities weâ€™ll feature. At the end, the charity with the most votes will receive a $5,000 check from the Starkville CVB.â€ť
Gregory said the Starkville Restaurant Week website will highlight these specialized menus but patrons be able to order from a participating restaurantâ€™s regular menu.
â€śThe prefixed menus are simply there to showcase the unique flair each restaurant wishes to highlight and any time diners order an entree or more, they will receive a ballot to vote,â€ť she said. â€śFor the most part, however, drinks, tax and tip will not be included any specially priced menu items, so do not forget to tip those hard working servers.â€ť
Gregory said charities â€” registered 501 c 3 with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office â€” are chosen through a nomination process which ends at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18.
â€śWe are asking residents to nominate their favorite local charity and tell us why they think that charity deserves to be one of our top three contenders,â€ť she said. â€śThe CVB board will review the nominees and the top three will be chosen based on ability to get votes, number of nominations and a variety of other factors.â€ť
Gregory said organizers are hoping to create a competitive atmosphere during the nomination process as a way to provide awareness and visibility to charities located throughout the Golden Triangle and those affecting members of Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
â€śWe are hoping organizations will create campaigns and hold nominating parties as a creative way to spotlight their charities,â€ť she said. â€śThis is a great opportunity for them to garner local support, win money and this creates an incentive for diners to eat our several times at our wonderful local restaurants.â€ť
Gregory said information concerning participating restaurants and prefixed menus will be updated to the Starkville Restaurant Week website as they come in, but said of several restaurants committed, owners and chefs are excited to participate in this beneficial event.
â€śThey are excited that there is not a large investment of their part because this is meant to benefit their business,â€ť she said. â€śRestaurants are looking forward to the ability to shine through their prefixed menus and being a part of the charitable donation process.â€ť
Presented by the GSDP and working in conjunction with the Eat Yâ€™all group, Gregory said she is excited about the partnerships in place to promote Starkville as a current restaurant destination in the Golden Triangle with its variety of culinary choices.
â€śWe have been successful in in our promotion of our downtown retailers and as a result have seen record sales tax collections, but we have not done as many tangible promotions for our restaurants,â€ť she said. â€śWe are excited about the potential economic impact this event will have on our community and getting involved with this important sector.â€ť
For more information on Starkville Restaurant Week and instructions on how to nominate a local charity, visit http://www.starkvillerestaurantweek.com or call 662-323-3322.