This Year Marks the 25th Anniversary of One of the Largest and Most Successful Events in San Diego
Set in the vibrant downtown area of Encinitas, the Taste of MainStreet – hosted by the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association – showcases the best 92024 has to offer. With local restaurants, wineries, breweries, businesses, and bands taking part in this year’s festivities, the Taste of MainStreet draws attendees of all ages for one of the largest and most successful events of its kind in San Diego. Over its twenty-four year history the event has grown in size, scope, and popularity, and this year on Aug. 19, the event will celebrate its greatest celebration yet – its twenty-fifth anniversary. Dody Crawford, Executive Director of the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association, shares some history about the event and highlights what attendees can expect this year.
Q&A by Dody Crawford
Executive Director of the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association
What is the history behind the Taste of MainStreet?
At the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association we create events that attract people to downtown Encinitas and bring business to our merchants. We introduced the Taste of MainStreet in 1989, with about fifteen restaurants. We now have around thirty-five restaurants. Last year we expanded the event substantially by adding wine and beer tasting hosted by various retail shops and salons. Those fifteen additions, which we call “Sip Stops,” were a big hit, so we are adding a couple more this year. Each Sip Stop hosts a different winery or brewery. The wine is provided by Temecula Valley wineries and the beer is from our local San Diego craft breweries. For nearly all of its history the Taste of MainStreet had been held on a Thursday night, but those have become increasingly busy nights for our restaurants. So, last year we also moved the event to a Tuesday night.
Where and when is this event held?
The Taste of MainStreet is held every August in Downtown Encinitas. It takes place at dozens of restaurants, shops and salons along South Coast Highway 101, from Encinitas Blvd. to K St. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 19, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For the benefit of those who may have never attended, can you describe the Taste of MainStreet?
People buy tickets in order to sample food at over thirty restaurants and wine and beer at around fifteen Sip Stops. Restaurants usually set up tables right in front their establishments where they serve small plates of food to ticketholders. The Sip Stops are set up inside various retail shops and salons. Each ticket entitles you to sample dishes from as many restaurants as you can, as well as up to ten sample-size servings of wine or beer. Most people can only visit a fraction of the restaurants, due to limitations of time and appetite. We advise everyone to plan their own route and start with the ones near the top of their list. It’s a very social event, with lots of mingling and meeting friends along the way. It takes place largely outdoors, along our sidewalks and public spaces. As usual, we will have a wide range of musicians performing at various spots along the route. The featured act plays at the biggest venue, The Lumberyard Courtyard Stage at Highway 101, and H St. This year’s featured act will be The Red Fox Tails.
BY THE NUMBERS
This year’s Taste of MainStreet will feature over 30 restaurants, 17 sip stop stations, and 5 live music stations with over 1,200 people in attendance. A total of 80 volunteers will be working on the day of the event, which will bring in approximately $35,000 to $40,000.
How is the Taste of MainStreet planned and managed?
We begin making arrangements several months in advance. The work involves securing commitments from the various participants (restaurants, Sip Stop hosts, wineries, breweries, musicians), obtaining all the necessary permits, and creating the tickets, posters, postcards, etc. Most ticket sales are done online, though some prefer to stop by our office. On the day of the event, some volunteers assist us with ticket/wrist-band pickup, and others help restaurants that request additional servers.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event. What is the most exciting aspect of putting the event on each year?
The most exciting aspect is seeing it all come to fruition. We just love seeing all the happy people enjoying our downtown.
What kinds of activities will be available for children?
There are no specific kids’ activities, but they enjoy the food and music too! And kids eat free! Adults can share their tickets with children age 12 and under.
Can you tell us about the venues that will be participating in the event?
Virtually every restaurant in Downtown Encinitas takes part, with the exception of those that don’t serve dinner. We are the only Taste event that has a partnership with Temecula Valley Wineries and they bring some very good wines. We will have three new restaurants participating this year: Encinitas Fish Shop, Maurizio Trattoria Italiana, and Moonlight Yogurt & Ice.
How large is the event in terms of attendance, activities, venues, and revenue?
We usually have about 1,200 ticket-holders and probably a few hundred more tagging along or coming downtown to enjoy the scene and the live music. The event encompasses the entire downtown, from Encinitas Blvd. to K St., and the venues typically include around thirty-five restaurants, fifteen Sip Stops, and as many as five or more live music locations. We anticipate revenues of $35,000 to $40,000.
At-A-Glance – Executive Director Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association Dody Crawford
Name: Dody Crawford
Organization: Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association
Education: Arizona State University, Fine Arts
Family: Sons – Morgan and Niles; Granddaughter – Phoebe
Hobbies and Interests: Film, art and music
Favorite Activity at the Taste of MainStreet: Talking with friends I haven’t seen since the last Taste of MainStreet.
How much are tickets to the event and who benefits from the proceeds of the event?
Advance tickets for the event are just $35, including food, wine and beer (for those age 21+). Same day tickets (if available), will be $45. Advance tickets will go on sale on July 18 and will be available online at www.encinitas101.com, or at our office. For $35 per person you get tastes from any of the restaurants plus up to ten samples of wine or beer at any of the seventeen Sip Stops. Same day tickets are $45, but we expect to sell out in advance, as usual. The proceeds benefit us, the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association, and we use them to preserve, improve and promote downtown Encinitas. From preserving buildings like the La Paloma Theatre to improving streetscapes to presenting and promoting events like our new First Thursdays, the proceeds greatly benefit downtown Encinitas.
How many volunteers are involved with this year’s event? What are their responsibilities?
On the day of the event, we will need about eighty volunteers to help serve food and about ten to check IDs, and hand out tickets and wristbands.
How can a community member go about volunteering for the event?
Please call us at 760-943-1950. We would love to have your help!
What is your role as executive director? How are you involved with the event?
I manage the overall event, thanks to help from my two full-time staff, our board of directors and many volunteers.
Where should attendees plan to park for the event?
If you plan to drive, we suggest the lots along Vulcan, such as the Coaster Station, Civic Center and behind Pacific Station. However, many local residents can get a ride to and from the event for free, thanks to our partnership with Uber. To get a free round-trip (up to $20 each way) you can sign up online or download the Uber app and enter the promo code ENCINITAS101 (for new users only).
Why should local residents attend and support the event this year?
This is a chance to enjoy a big night on the town, including more food samples than you could possibly eat, some exceptional wine and beer, and live music along the way. I like to think of it as Trick-or-Treat for grown-ups. And it makes a wonderful social occasion, whether it’s date night, a group or family outing, or an opportunity to make new friends.
At-A-Glance – Taste of MainStreet
Name: Taste of MainStreet
Head Organizer: Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association
Location: Downtown Encinitas (Coast Highway 101, from Encinitas Blvd. to K St.)
Time: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Phone Number: 760-943-1950
Cost: $35 ($45 day of, if available)
Number of Expected Participants: 1,200
Description: Treat your taste buds to food samples from over thirty restaurants, and quench your thirst at Sip Stops featuring Temecula Valley wine and local craft beer. Pause along the way to enjoy live music at multiple venues.
PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS (partial list)
- Bier Garden
- Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria
- D Street Bar and Grill
- Encinitas Cafe
- Encinitas Fish Shop
- Leucadia Pizzeria & Restaurant
- Lobster West
- Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar
- Lumberyard Tavern & Grill
- Maurizio Trattoria Italiana
- Moonlight Yogurt & Ice
- Roxy Restaurant
- Sakura Bana
- Solace & the Moonlight Lounge
- St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro
- Surfdog’s Java Hut
- Trattoria I Trulli
- UNION Kitchen & Tap
SIP STOP BREWERIES AND WINERIES
- Acoustic Ales
- Ballast Point
- Karl Strauss
- New English
- On the Tracks
- Danza del Sol
- Monte de Oro