June 5, 2013 By Christian Murray
The Taste of LIC, which took place at Gantry Plaza State Park last night, represented everything about the booming neighborhood: youth, growth and vibrancy.
The event drew a record crowd of more than 1,000 eager visitors who filled the park and feasted on the cuisine provided by 50 restaurants.
This was the 8th annual festival since the event kicked off in the basement of the Chocolate Factory, a local theater company, in 2005—when there were just 12 restaurants and 200 attendees. The event quickly gained momentum—moving to the rooftop terrace at Avalon Riverview North—before moving to the park.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Chocolate Factory’s 2013 and 2014 season of dance, theater and music.
“People always talk about the event [Taste of LIC] getting bigger and bigger…but it is true,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has attended every year since its inception.
“Look at the people here—all excited, coming to support the theater, arts and all the restaurants,” Van Bramer said. This is also an important economic driver for these restaurants, he said, since many of the attendees sample the food and then decide to frequent the restaurants later.
The weather was ideal—blue skies, cool and 72 degrees. “Every year, I pray for weather like this and we got it,” said Sheila Lewandowski, the executive director of the Chocolate Factory. “I would say this is the best weather we have ever had.”
All the major restaurants participated in the event—from the high end to the local burger joint. (see the photos)