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'Taste Fest' offers restaurant sampler

Pasco's first "Taste Fest" - a smorgasbord of items from localrestaurants - will be from noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Gulf View Square Mall.

The Port Richey Council of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce has patterned the affair after taste-testing events in surrounding counties, and aims to make it an annual event.

"We've tried a smaller, similar event before, and it was very popular," said Cynthia Armstrong, a Taste Fest coordinator. "Now we're going for a larger event."

The Chamber sent about 60 letters inviting local restaurateurs and caterers to participate. Mrs. Armstrong said 20 businesses will be stationed throughout the mall, each offering a sample of its fare.

Some will peddle seafood, others soup and sandwiches. Chinese and Mexican specialties also will be sold, as well as chili, barbecued meat and desserts.

Hooters of Port Richey will spotlight its specialty, wings, assistant manager Jordy Clark said.

Tickets will be sold at various locations in the mall for 50 cents.

Mrs. Armstrong said food vendors pay $23 for a temporary health permit and $20 for a space.

The event benefits everyone involved, she said. The Chamber gets the proceeds, diners get a taste of the food and businesses get publicity.

"When it comes to exposure, you can't go wrong with something like this," said Ted VanAtta, general manager of Bill Knapp's Restaurant on U.S. 19. "It's a fun time for us to get out into the public and for others to have the opportunity to see what we're about."

VanAtta said the restaurant will feature baked goods, such as breads, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, brownies and coffee cakes. It will stress the healthy aspects of its products, which are baked on the premises. Sample menus also will be available.

The price to taste Bill Knapp's baked goods will vary, VanAtta said, but will be lower than regular restaurant prices.

Mrs. Armstrong said some vendors will offer samples for one 50-cent ticket, while others may charge up to $2 for a taste of their specialty.