Tickets to this year’s Taste in the Glebe sold out faster than ever before in the 20-year history of the popular community fundraiser.
We’re talking a matter of hours for the main event in the Glebe Community Centre on Thursday, while spots for the premier (and pricier) seated tasting held downstairs vanished like smoked salmon canapés from a party tray.
The high demand for tickets to Taste in the Glebe is in keeping with the downtown neighbourhood’s cemented status as a go-to destination for eating, shopping and entertainment. The evening featured yummy samples from dozens of restaurants and food shops -- mostly from the Glebe -- along with wineries, breweries and distilleries.
“I think our area is, in many ways, stronger than ever, better than ever,” Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe BIA, told OBJ.social in the days leading up to the big night. “There’s just so much going on, constantly."
The Glebe, which counts the Rideau Canal among its neighbours, has always been a desirable and walkable 'hood to live in. It's home to about 12,000 but serves more like 60,000 from within a two-kilometre radius of its centre.
The Glebe/Lansdowne Park and downtown Ottawa/Centretown are considered the best areas of Ottawa for shopping, restaurants and entertainment, according to a 2016 market research study done by Environics. “There’s a reason for practically everybody in the city to come here at some point,” said Peck, who's expecting another influx of visitors to the Glebe during the Winterlude celebrations in February.
The Glebe BIA has just wrapped up its most successful Glebe Spree yet. The annual campaign encourages local shopping over the holidays by rewarding one lucky Glebe customer with a $10,000-shopping spree. The total number of submitted ballots increased this year by 68 per cent, from 19,000 to 32,000.
Peck does hear his share of complaints when a new business pops up that's considered out-of-character for the Glebe. Last year, McDonald’s arrived on scene. More recently, it was Boston Pizza (this might be a good time to salaciously slip in the eyebrow-raising opening of the Stag Shop adult fun store in the Glebe).
Boston Pizza is a Canadian chain and its owners are a local family, said Peck. “If it serves a consumer’s need and it doesn’t lose money, then it has a legitimate reason for being there.”
Taste in the Glebe, which continues to be chaired by volunteer Tahera Mufti, raises funds for the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group, an invaluable organization that runs everything from before and after-school care, summer camps, cultural and sports activities and youth dances.
Spotted in the thick crowd were such prominent Glebe business folks as Jim McKeen (McKeen Metro Glebe), Caren von Merveldt (Von's Bistro/Flipper's Seafood Restaurant) and Craig Buckley (Kettleman's Bagel Co.). Also present were such hugely successful young entrepreneurs like David Segal, founder of DAVIDsTea and Mad Radish restaurant. He and his young family also live in the Glebe.
The most loyal attendee remains Mayor Jim Watson, who’s only ever missed the event once in 20 years. He has a soft spot for the benefit because he organized the first couple with his staff when he was pre-amalgamation mayor from 1997 to 2000. He wanted to help the Glebe community association raise funds for much-needed renovation work.
“It’s gotten bigger and better,” Watson told OBJ.social at this year’s event. “It looks a lot more sophisticated than ours did.”