One of the greatest frustrations of getting together with a group of friends for a meal is picking a place to eat. Consensus is hard to reach when the members of the group each crave something different.
The Central Columbia Association is offering a temporary solution.
On Thursday night, the organization is putting on its third annual “Dinner in the District,” where food enthusiasts will be able to sample menus from 16 of the 70 restaurants and bars in downtown Columbia. And the association hopes to fill the stomachs of more than just ticketholders. All proceeds from the event will go to support the Central Missouri Food Bank.
With a $20 ticket purchase, one can sample a range of culinary delights from participating restaurants.
Ticketholders can choose their own route through the downtown establishments, which offer varying course selections.
These selections range from an appetizer course of spinach and artichoke dip at Colosseum Bistro and an entree sample of grilled lemon chicken fettuccini at Boone Tavern to a dessert of rich chocolate mousse at Trattoria Strada Nova.
The association, a voluntary group of local restaurant and retail store owners who work to market the downtown area — which they have identified as The District — see it as an opportunity to lure new patrons downtown.
It’s also an opportunity for the restaurants to exhibit the range of local flavor downtown Columbia has to offer.
“We’re supporters of the downtown association,” said Jim Lee, general manager of Flat Branch Pub and Brewing. “Downtown restaurants need to band together and fight the influx of restaurant chains all along the interstate and highway.”
Though the promotional event hopes to attract patrons with offerings of indulgences, the association also hopes to make a significant contribution to the food bank, which supplies free food to soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, low-income children’s programs and rehabilitation centers throughout mid-Missouri.
Tim Rich, associate director of the food bank, said he sees all-around benefits with events such as Dinner in the District.
“It helps build community while supporting a good cause,” Rich said.
“It provides food for children that are hungry and helps family who struggle to put food on the table. You also get to enjoy fellowship with friends and people who are partners with the food bank.”
For every dollar the Central Missouri Food Bank receives, it is able to acquire 20 pounds of food at wholesale value. Last year, Dinner in the District raised more than $1,000 for the food bank.