Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, this year's Taste of New Albany, held annually by the New Albany Chamber of Commerce, will be a pared-down affair.
Although 1,000 tickets typically are sold, the chamber is releasing only 300 tickets per the state's mandate on limiting the size of group gatherings, said executive director Cherie Nelson.
"It's very possible that that will be lifted in the next couple of weeks, but that's up to the governor," she said.
The event, scheduled from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 2, will feature a new venue. Instead of Market Square, the Taste of New Albany will be held at the newly revitalized Rose Run Park,behind the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Nelson said.
"Our whole city is excited about the park," she said.
Rose Run Park is part of the Rose Run stream corridor that runs mostly parallel to Dublin-Granville Road through New Albany. The park opened to residents in January after a revitalization project that lasted about 18 months.
For a few months, Nelson said, she was not sure the Taste would be able to be held safely. But as health updates kept coming, the chamber began following state rules and regulations for event venues and restaurants, she said.
The event will include spaced-out tables and vendors, Nelson said. Masks will be required for restaurant and catering staff members, as well as volunteers.
Tables will have no more than 10 guests, and as of June 25, a band has not been booked for the night, she said.
"We don't want to encourage any congregating," Nelson said.
The list of partners still was being finalized, but the event is expected to include 101 Beer Kitchen Gahanna, Brio Tuscan Grille, Cap City Fine Diner and Bar, Hudson 29, Jorgensen Farms, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks, Mellow Mushroom, Mitchell's Ocean Club, Nazareth Restaurant & Deli, New Albany Country Club, Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern, Smith & Wollensky, the Barn at Rocky Fork Creek, Soulshine Tavern & Kitchen and the Estate at New Albany, Nelson said.
Craig Brown, regional manager of Mellow Mushroom, said this would be the restaurant's fifth year participating in the Taste of New Albany. Mellow Mushroom's New Albany location is at 260 Market St.
Mellow Mushroom will offer its food in individual cups with sealed lids, Brown said, and staff would wear masks and gloves.
The chamber does much for the restaurants in New Albany, and the Taste is its big money-raising event of the year, he said.
"I absolutely had to help them out," Brown said.
Andrew Arthurs, owner of Soulshine Tavern & Kitchen, 266 East Main St., said having a local audience for whom to showcase his gastropub's food always is a good thing.
Soulshine, which opened summer 2017, has participated in the Taste event for the last two years, he said.
"We've had a wonderful experience the last couple of years," Arthurs said.
This year, he said, Soulshine will offer its fare in a way that limits contact and considers social distance.
"We're going to have to think it through," he said.
Tickets went on sale June 26, Nelson said.
Tables of 10 are $500 apiece and may be reserved at tasteofnewalbany.com.
Nelson said the chamber would begin by selling tables only, and she is not sure if individual seats will be sold this year.