March 14, 2013 10:07:04 AM
If imitation is, indeed, the sincerest form of flattery, Columbus might be wise to toss a few bouquets in the direction of Starkville.
Next week, 32 restaurants will participate in Starkville's inaugural Restaurant Week, an idea so promising that it seems certain to be borrowed, stolen or, more charitably put, imitated.
The concept seems almost certain to be a boost not only to the city's restaurant business, but for charity, too.
Like most good events, Restaurant Week is a collaboration. Although the Greater Starkville Development Partnership is the main entity that brought the idea to reality, the event would not be possible without other contributions. The Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Cadence Bank are also playing important supporting roles.
Restaurant Week promises to serve as a showcase for the city's restaurants, of course, but the event also will benefit charity.
The concept is simple. Three charities -- Sally Kate Winters Family Services, Oktibbeha County Humane Society and Reclaimed Project -- will compete for a $5,000 donation. The winning charity will be chosen by ballot. Participating restaurants will provide the ballots for patrons who dine at their restaurants. At the end of the week, the charity that has the most votes will pick up the $5,000 donation.
Restaurants win. Charity wins. The community, by virtue of the anticipated spike in sales tax revenue, wins.
Quite frankly, Columbus should be taking notes.
Last month, Columbus Main Street named a new director, Barbara Bigelow. To date, she has not announced any of her plans for invigorating downtown Columbus, which sorely needs a boost.
From what we know of Bigelow, we strongly suspect she will pay careful attention to what is happening in Starkville next week.
We applaud the community leaders in Starkville for coming up with a fresh, new method for promoting what it has to offer.
We can only hope that Columbus entities such as the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, Columbus Main Street and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce will be inspired by Starkville's approach.
It's time for new ideas.
Or, in this particular case, borrowed ideas.