Most years, the annual “A Taste of Dr. Phillips” event draws a crowd of about 800 for a few hours of sampling local delicacies and socializing with friends.
In the COVID-19 era, though, the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips knew that wouldn’t be possible this time.
This month would have marked the 14th anniversary of the Rotary club’s signature fundraising events.
“A Taste of Dr. Phillips brings 20 restaurants together to demonstrate their wares at the fountains at Dellagio,” said Terry Taggart, the club’s president-elect and chair of the event’s committee this year. “We normally hold it the second week of November … and those 20 restaurants put together a display of some of their favorite dishes. We started to move along to do this event again this year — then COVID hit. Obviously, it changed everyone’s perspective on how to do a charitable event.”
However, Taggart said, the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips came up with a new game plan. This year’s A Taste of Dr. Phillips event takes on a new meaning in the form of a restaurant passport.
“We turned around and looked at the devastation our partners, the restaurants, were going through,” Taggart said. “We thought — as a philanthropic organization — we wanted to do whatever we could to give back to them and actually drive business to them.”
With the restaurant passport idea in mind, the event committee visited more than 20 Dr. Phillips-area restaurants and asked if they would like to participate by putting their coupon in the passport book. Each restaurant is offering a tailored dining and savings experience. The only cost to restaurant partners is honoring the coupon.
“There were quite a few restaurants that could not do it because of COVID, and we certainly want to thank them for their support over the years,” Taggart said. “The idea is to give people a reason to go out and enjoy with their friends. … What we are doing is taking those coupon books — we have a limited number of 750 — and we are selling them at $49 apiece to raise money for the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips Foundation, and all monies will go to charities here in the local area.”
This year, those benefactors are Second Harvest Food Bank, Feed the Need and United Against Poverty. The goal was to use proceeds to help local workers who have been affected by COVID-19.
Taggart said that through sponsorships, the cost of printing the passports, distribution and other associated costs have been covered. Passport sales began Nov. 1 and will continue until they are sold out. Passport coupons are good through April 30, 2021, and each book contains more than $400 in savings. As of press time, Taggart said the Rotary club has sold more than half of them.
“It’s a new endeavor for us,” Taggart said. “We think it’s a win for the restaurants because it causes people to go out to the restaurants and help them out, and then it also is a way for us to continue our charitable work. … We consider them partners in A Taste of Dr. Phillips, (and we) assist our partners during difficult times.
“We’d also like to thank all of the past participants of A Taste of Dr. Phillips and those new ones who are supporting the passport, and we look forward to the future … of returning to A Taste of Dr. Phillips,” he said.