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Region acquires taste for Dishcrawl event

Updated: August 8, 2013 6:04AM



VALPARAISO — Following a successful debut Dishcrawl event in May, organizers are ready to roll out the foodie-centric progressive dinner events on a full scale in Northwest Indiana.

Jennifer Jackson-Outlaw, Valparaiso Dishcrawl ambassador, said the next Dishcrawl event will take place Wednesday, again in Valparaiso, but it will move to Whiting in late August and Crown Point in late September.

“I’d have to say we were using the first Valparaiso event as more or less an experiment,” Jackson-Outlaw said. Tickets for the event sold out in one business day.

The approximately 25 diners who participated spent their evening at four Valparaiso restaurants during the progressive dinner: Don Quijote, Valley Kitchen & Bar, Old Style Inn and the South Bend Chocolate Factory Chocolate Café.

“(Dishcrawl) was very happy with feedback it got from diners. They truly see Northwest Indiana as growth potential,” she said.

Dishcrawl is an event based on the pub crawl concept that takes foodies from restaurant to restaurant for one course each of a four-course progressive dinner. The goal is to help local diners learn about the variety of independently owned quality restaurants in the area along with introducing foodies from other areas such as Chicago to the type of cuisine one can find here.

Amy Philp, manager of the South Bend Chocolate Co. Chocolate Café, said when she was contacted by Jackson-Outlaw the idea sounded interesting and she decided to give it a try. The chocolatier stayed open late to accommodate the nighttime dinner party.

Philp said the response was positive and brought in new faces to the cafe. The concept worked well for her business to draw awareness to what the Chocolate Café has to offer in addition to chocolates.

“A lot of people don’t know we offer desserts and ice cream. They see the name and say, ‘Oh, it’s just candy,’ ” she said.

Jackson-Outlaw, a Miller resident, said the first of several events will be limited to about 25 diners. Plans also are in the works for a larger neighborhood Dishcrawl in Gary.

“It’s my goal to have at least one larger neighborhood event once or twice a year. Lake Street is perfect with its thriving artist community,” she said.

Events will evolve as organizers become more familiar with the restaurants and types of diners in the region. Events in other communities have included Strollercrawls, Saturday afternoon lunch events for moms, Dessertcrawls and Match.com date night events, among others.

The four restaurants featured Wednesday will be different from the first four. Diners do not know about the restaurants in advance, but are given clues such as pictures. The first stop is announced to ticket holders the day prior to the dinner.

Tickets for Wednesday’s Dishcrawl event are $45 and are available at www.dishcrawl.com/valpo. Drinks are not included. Diners can receive a 20 percent discount on tickets by entering the code: posttribune.



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