Gregory: Restaurant Week may spur future culinary tourism

March 14, 2013 9:50:29 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


Starkville Restaurant Week organizers say they hope the inaugural event will put the city on the map as a culinary destination. 


Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO, confirmed Wednesday 32 restaurants will participate in the city's inaugural Restaurant Week. The event begins Monday. 


A 2010 retail analysis, she said, showed Starkville has gained increased tax revenues by attracting out-of-town diners from a 60-mile radius to its many community-owned and chain restaurants. By holding a week-long event focused on the community's culinary achievements and successful chefs, Starkville can become even better known as a fine dining town, she said. 


"We've received a lot of notoriety for our local restaurants in the state and the Southeast, especially for our farm-to-table concept establishments. That has really helped spread the word for the unique chefs and restaurants we have here in Starkville," Gregory said. "We anticipate Restaurant Week will see diners from not only Starkville and the Golden Triangle, but beyond. This is really a concentrated time for us to show off the variety we have here." 


Besides promoting local cuisine, Starkville Restaurant Week will also help donate $5,000 to a local charity. 


Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau officials nominated three local charities - Sally Kate Winters Family Services, Oktibbeha County Humane Society and the Reclaimed Project - for a potential donation tied with the inaugural event. 


Diners who eat at participating Starkville Restaurant Week locations will receive a ballot where they will vote for one of the three charities. The organization with the most votes by the end of the week will receive a $5,000 donation. 


Cadence Bank is serving as the charity sponsor. 


"All of our restaurants are super excited about bringing in new patrons and showing support for these local charities," Jennifer Prather, GSDP special events and projects coordinator, said. 


The West Point-based Sally Kate Winters Foundation offers social and family support services to area children and adults. The organization was founded in 1990. 


Oktibbeha County Humane Society promotes domestic animal welfare through education, sheltering, adoption and sterilization services. OCHS was founded in 1978, and it serves Starkville and Oktibbeha County. 


The Starkville-based Reclaimed Project was founded last year. The organization assists families wishing to adopt by providing grants, connecting prospective families with mentors and educating the public about current adoption needs.  


GSDP officials are also seeking applications for Starkville's birthday parade. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m., April 6 and will run down Main Street from Regions Bank to the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex. A birthday celebration will follow at the Cadence Bank plaza. 


Parade applications are available at the GSDP building on Main Street.  


Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch