Taste the City – in person at FitzGerald’s

On Sunday afternoon, a large crowd gathered on the terrace of the FitzGerald nightclub, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, for the first-ever in-person Taste the Town event. Hosted by Takeout 25 and several generous sponsors, the food-focused rally drew hundreds of supporters who collectively raised approximately $22,000.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better venue and the crowd was amazing,” said Ravi Parakkat, founder of Takeout 25 and administrator for the village of Oak Park. “It felt like we all knew each other even though it was the first time many of us had met in person.”

Sunday’s Taste the Town event brought the virtual world to life – Takeout 25 is a largely online community and all three previous Taste the Town events, held at the height of the pandemic, offered takeout. The in-person gathering pushed the nonprofit in a new direction allowing supporters to enjoy a meal together for the first time. A transport and delivery option has been included to enhance the in-person experience.

Over 250 guests sang and danced to the charismatic sounds of Gerald McClendon, ‘The Guardian of the Soul’, while enjoying generous tasting portions of an array of restaurant dishes. Despite the large number of guests, the atmosphere at FitzGerald’s was relaxed throughout the afternoon. Food was easily accessible, allowing guests to have a well-paced experience listening to tunes from Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding.

Host restaurant, Babygold Barbecue, offered a memorable sea-and-land trifle with layers of cheesy potato salad, smoked brisket, smoked shrimp, fresh chives and a dash of hot sauce. Accompanied by a cold Babygold beer from the cash bar, the dish set the tone for the sunny afternoon where guests were also treated to tastings of beet salad, rich okra, cauliflower tacos, chicken tikka, poke bowls, salted caramel cheesecake and stuffed cookies.

“By all measures I have, it was a huge success,” Parakkat said. “The event appealed to all age groups, the music grounded it all, and people all had different favorites among the food options.”

Funds raised through ticket sales and sponsorships from Byline Bank, Delivery First, Sean Olis of Guaranteed Rate, West Side Garage and Cadence Group covered the cost of the event and the remaining proceeds were split between Takeout 25 and participating restaurants: Amerikas, Babygold Barbecue, Kettlestrings Grove, Khyber Pass, Poke Burrito, Surf’s Up Oak Park, Schweet Cheesecake and Twisted Cookie. Additional donations totaling $700 were raised for Beyond Hunger.

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