The latest attempt at focusing attention on the vast array of ethnic and independent restaurants in Northland has hit a snag.
What organizers were calling the Taste of Northland and had been scheduled for Tuesday, July 18, has been postponed to provide more time to recruit participants.
"I am a little disappointed," said Alicia Ward, vice president of the Northland Community Council. She announced plans June 6 for a free, multirestaurant tasting event at the Northland Performing Arts Center on Tamarack Boulevard.
"I think we're going to have to push that a little bit," said Sandra Lopez, a legislative analyst with Columbus City Council's Division of Community Engagement who had been working with Ward.
Lopez had sought to tap into the 250,000-member Yelp Columbus online community to attract Asian, African and Middle Eastern eateries to participate in the Taste of Northland.
Normally, Ward said, Yelp recruiting for such an undertaking finds restaurants "clamoring to participate." Thirty restaurants were invited, but only a handful expressed any interest, Ward said.
"Since they didn't get the response we were expecting, they said we need to take a different approach," she said.
Cultural differences – the reason the concept of Taste of Northland was interesting – might be at the root of why online recruitment met with, at best, limited success, Ward said.
"The uniqueness of the restaurants in our area and what we feel are the problems Yelp ran into, most of them are run by new Americans and they may not have understood the concept of it or the benefits to them," she said.
"It did turn out that we have to talk in person to a lot of these restaurants," Lopez said.
In approaching restaurant owners in person, Ward said, she and Lopez can explain the potential benefits and exposure such an event could offer. Ward and Lopez will be doing that over the next couple of months and hope to set a another date after gaining sufficient participation. Lopez suggested that might be some time in September.
"I've never really considered what a target number would be, but I would think if we had at least 10 we could do it," Ward said.
"We want to have good representation of the Northland restaurants," Lopez said. "We could have invited other businesses from around the city, but that would have defeated the purpose."