If the dine-in traffic at Grove City area restaurants is smaller than usual the evening of March 13, it won't necessarily mean customers no longer want their cuisine.

Numerous eateries will be participating in the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce's 11th annual Taste of Grove City and Business Expo scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. that evening at the South-Western Career Academy, 4750 Big Run South Road.

Admission will be $8 at the door for adults, $5 for seniors 65 and older and children under 10.

"We'll have around 20 restaurants and pizza places and 60 to 70 businesses all under one roof," said Marilyn Reiner, the chamber's events manager.

Each participating restaurant will offer samples of dishes.

"You'll be able to have your complete dinner right there," said Shawn Conrad, chamber executive director. "Appetizers, main course, dessert -- and the career academy students will be selling water and pop."

The Taste of Grove City has become a premier event for the chamber, Conrad said.

"It's always packed. We like to joke that 'millions of people stop by,' but really we usually draw between 500 and 700 people," she said. "At times during the evening, the line backs up out the door."

Restaurants signed up to participate include Brew Brothers, El Vaquero, Fusion, Grove City Brewing & Plum Run Winery, iHop, Jolly Pirate, Marcos Pizza, Romeos Pizza, Story Point, Texas Roadhouse and Tropical Fruit & Nuts.

Guests will be able to vote for the pizzeria and restaurant of the year, but the businesses that garner the most votes won't be the only winners, Reiner said.

"We'll hold drawings for gift certificates to the winning restaurant and pizza place," she said.

A portion of the proceeds from the Taste of Grove City will be donated to the Grove City Food Pantry, Conrad said.

The business expo will feature local businesses offering samples of their products, promotional materials or information about the services they provide, Reiner said.

"We'll have all kinds of businesses represented, from insurance and banking to real estate, chiropractors and fitness," she said. "It's really an opportunity for some 'one stop shopping.' "

With so many restaurants and businesses on hand, the career academy becomes a kind of pop-up shopping mall, Conrad said.

Visitors will also be able to learn about the various programs offered at the career academy, she said.

"Each lab from the career academy will have a table set up to offer more information about what their students are doing," Conrad said.

The school's culinary arts department will have its Academy Grille open during the expo, she said.

Additional restaurants and businesses can sign up to participate at gcchamber.org, Conrad said. The registration deadline is March 1.

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