May 28, By Christian Murray
More than 1,400 visitors are expected to fill Gantry Plaza State Park next Tuesday looking to feast on cuisine provided by more than 50 local restaurants.
The 9th Annual Taste of LIC will kick off at 5:30 pm June 3 and all the major local restaurants—from the trendy to the upscale– will be participating. Popular restaurants will include Alobar, M. Wells to the traditional Italian establishment Testaccio Ristorante.
The event is being organized by The Chocolate Factory, a non-profit theater company, which founded Taste of LIC in 2005. In its first year, the event drew 12 restaurants and about 200 people. It was held at the theater, located at 5-49 49th Avenue, at the time.
Sheila Lewandowski, the executive director of the Chocolate Factory, who runs the theater with her husband, Brian Rogers, said: “Neither of us come from great [wealth] so we started the event as a fundraiser when we first got our own space [on 49th Avenue],” she said.
However, the event grew quickly and it became a neighborhood hit. In 2008, Rockrose offered to host it on its rooftop at the East Coast Tower on Center Blvd.
“They[Rockrose] took a chance on us and that was a major transition for us,” Lewandowski said.
This year’s food festival will be held at Gantry Plaza State Park for the sixth successive year. Lewandowski said that the Sunnyside Woodside Girl Scouts will be performing and that the girl scouts have been working with the theater’s choreographers on their act.
The Chocolate Factory’s Taste of LIC T-Shirt, which is a popular keepsake, will feature a tag-line this year that reads: “What’s not to LIC?”
The theater held a competition earlier this year to see who could come up with the best tag line. The winner, Steve Sewell, received two free VIP tickets to Tuesday’s event for his efforts.
The theater has held a competition for the best tagline for the past five years. Previous winners came up with lines that included: ChocohoLIC , LICense to Eat, DeLICious and LIC Your Plate Clean.
The proceeds from Tuesday’s event will go toward The Chocolate Factory’s 2014-15 season.
Several Long Island City businesses will also be raffling items and holding an auction to raise money at the event.
Tickets, which range from $60-$400, can be purchased at chocolatefactorytheater.org
Tickets, depending on availability, will also be sold on the day.
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