Blazing a new path for large-scale fall events on Main Street, the has begun planning the inaugural StrEAT Food Festival and Manayunk Restaurant Week, set to take place in late September.
The prix fixe restaurant week culminates Sept. 29 when Manayunk will present food trucks and gourmet food merchants that will sell their wares at fixed locations around Main Street.
"The thinking was we wanted something fun that switched things up. The food scene is a natural tie-in for Manayunk... We're hoping to bring everyone together in Manayunk with suburban gourmet food and the food trucks you'd find in Center City," MDC Marketing and Events Coordinator Caitlin Maloney said.
The StrEAT Food Festival will:
- Run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
- Park food trucks along Main Street (without closing the street);
- Host two separate markets for the sale of produce and homemade items;
- Offer seating areas outside restaurants and retail shops; and
- Present live music.
End of EcoArts
Manayunk StrEAT came about as a replacement for the , which will terminate after two years. MDC Executive Director Jane Lipton said she loved the green event, but said the event failed to meet her merchants' needs.
"We had tough questions and the tough answer is that people in the district felt the event didn't add value to their business when it ran," she said.
Lipton said a big takeaway from her three years with the MDC is that closing Main Street is a hardship for merchants—especially people in the service industry.
"People will eat at restaurants and buy jewelry. But no one is saying during the arts festival, 'I think I'll get a hair cut,'" she said.
By keeping Main Street open and setting the festival in the afternoon, the MDC hopes the StrEAT Food Festival can be a compromise.
"We wanted it during the afternoon so people can stroll around, buy some items and maybe stay for dinner," Maloney said.
A Foodie Fall
In total, about 30 merchants will come in with food trucks or sell gourmet items—such as honey, spices, oils, and produce. The trucks will set prices mostly between $3 and $5 for individual items. Simply strolling corridor is free.
Like a late-night talk show, the key to the StrEAT Festival will be the lead-in. From Sept. 24 to 28 restaurants will offer special lunch or dinner menus at $10, $20 or$30. This goes along with Center City Restaurant Week but is run through the MDC.
Due to the summer and many Manayunk organizers being away, Lipton said planning has only recently gotten off the ground.
"I believe our restaurants will fold themselves into our program over the next few weeks. We've been kicking this idea around for months and the idea just recently jelled," Lipton said.
She credited Laura Vitiello, a University of Delaware student interning with the MDC, for coming up with the creative "StrEAT" name.
Although the imported vendors will certainly compete with Manayunk merchants, Lipton said the festival enlarges the pie and keeps Main Street as a household name.
"I guarantee that we'll double their numbers during restaurant week—if they give a good package. This is a commitment to the greater good, and I think we all must look just beyond today," she said.
For more information on the new festival, visit Manayunk.com.