By PETER CARR
More than 2,000 residents tasted the dishes of 17 local restaurants in the 7th Annual “Taste of the Valley” food fest at the Provo Marriott October 28.
“It’s a way to get the county ready for the holiday season and let the restaurants show off their different dishes,” said Christa Tady, public relations director for the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, the organization sponsoring the event.
Restaurants set up booths around the Grand Ballroom in the Marriott while thousands of people strewed in on their lunch breaks to grab a taste of the upcoming holiday dishes. For three dollars, participants could try steak from Carvers, attempt various kinds of cream cheese and bagels from Einstein Bros. Bagels or just enjoy the atmosphere of Ottavio’s.
Although the apparent reason for the restaurants’ participation in the event is a form of free advertising, many restaurants had other distinct reasons for attending.
John Liu, owner the a Japanese restaurant, Yamato, said he joined the activity as a means of gaining public awareness of his new store. Open since last November, Yamato is not found in the Yellow Pages nor can Liu afford much advertising.
“We don’t have any number in the telephone book and this is the only way for people to know our food,” Liu said.
Doug Boyer, general manager of Tony Roma’s in Provo, said he did not participate in the event to promote awareness of his business.
“We’re not out to make a name for ourselves. That we already have,” Boyer said. “We’re here so that people that come can be reminded of us. It’s all marketing and promotional expense.”
Boyer said it’s hard to notice any increase of visitors from participating in activities like these, but he hopes the event will increase visitor frequency.
“We hope that instead of coming every six months, they’ll come every six weeks,” Boyer said.
Pepsi provided many of the drinks while attempting to promote their new product Pepsi One, which tastes like regular Pepsi but with only one calorie per can.
Residents flocked from all over Utah valley, but the majority of those attending were New Skin employees that crossed the street on their lunch break for somewhat of a “free” meal.
Catherine Jex read about the event in a flyer at NuSkin and said she decided to come by to see what it was all about.
“It’s a fun way of finding out about the different restaurants,” Jex said. “It’s good to get a taste before you go, as a way to rule some things out.”
Taste of the Valley is an annual event sponsored by the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce — a non-profit organization set up to promote businesses in the Provo/Orem area. Tady said the event was originally held at the County Courthouse, but because of increases in the number of vendors and residents desiring to attend, it was relocated to the Provo Marriott.