Stacy Wilcox and Lynnsey Lewis enjoy the fare at Taste of Johnson City 2012. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
Closing in on its 31st year of providing a night dedicated to the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County restaurant and beverage industry, the Chamber of Commerce will host the Taste of Johnson City at an old stomping ground this year, complete with a dining menu that would excite any foodie.
Barbara Mentgen, the Chamber’s director of operations, said the event, set for Sept. 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., first started at East Tennessee State University’s D.P. Culp Center and moved to the Johnson City Country Club before heading to the Millennium Centre.
“This year we are going back to the country club because it’s their 100th anniversary, so this is part of their 100th anniversary week celebration of events,” Mentgen said. “We normally average ... a crowd of 400 people. It’s an upscale, fun evening. (There’s) minimal sit-down space, so people are encouraged to stand up and network and taste. You go ... from vendor to vendor and get a free sample of whatever ... specialty items they’re serving.”
Showcasing 25 restaurant and beverage vendors, Mentgen said some of the past years’ vendors will be back, as well as a few new dining options from the community.
“One of the restaurants on here, Our House, is brand new,” she said. “They just opened maybe two weeks ago.”
Restaurants expected at this year’s event are Basic 2 Brilliant Catering, Blackthorn Grille at The Ridges, BoneFish Grill, The Catering Company, The Charles, Chocolate Elegance LLC, Earth Fare — The Healthy Supermarket, ETSU Dining & Catering, Firehouse Restaurant & Catering, Jason’s Deli, Johnson City Country Club, The Millennium Centre, N&K Restaurant & Catering, Our House Restaurant, Rainbow Asian, Reflections — Holiday Inn Johnson City, Rita’s Italian Ice & Old Fashioned Custard and Wellington’s at Carnegie Hotel.
Bronco Wine Company, Cherokee Distributing Company, Coca-Cola Bottling, Holston Distributing Company, Pepsi Beverages Company, Pristine Springs and Reedy Creek Vineyards & Cellars will be beverage vendors for the evening.
“It’s a fun atmosphere. We are one week later this year, so I’m hoping the weather is very cooperative with us and it’ll be a nice fall day, because we do use the terraces and the pool area of the country club,” Mentgen said. “We do have music this year, The 40W Band. They’re from Johnson City, they just play a variety of different musical choices, but they’ll be outside around the pool playing music for people to enjoy.”
She said the Taste of Johnson City is a way for restaurants and vendors to showcase their new or specialty items to the public, as well as an annual meeting place for those who attend.
“This is really only a small portion of our dining opportunities,” Mentgen said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a venue to showcase 50 or 60 restaurants, but we have plenty ... here in town to show off. We are blessed to have a great mix of restaurants here in Johnson City and I remember years ago we were like the only one in the Tri-Cities that had such a mix. The restaurants like to come here and people come here to shop and eat.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, 603 E. Market St., and are $40 per person.
“We do have a limited number of tickets, but right now we are fine,” Mentgen said. “I would encourage them to buy them early and not wait until the day before or the day of.”
The Chamber is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.