They came for the food and wine but stayed to party with one another.
The Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Concord returned after a pandemic-related hiatus to a sold-out crowd of revelers at the Nashoba Brooks School gym.
Joe Saia, owner of West Concord Wine and Spirits, co-sponsored the over-21 evening with the Chamber. “Taste” was held annually for about a decade until the recent pause.
“It’s part of the community,” said Saia as he hugged many of the 300 ticket holders at the door. “We’re sold out. People want to socialize again.”
Matus Marusak and Neal Checka said they lived close to the Strawberry Hill Road school and wanted to check it out.
“We’re here for the wine and food, but mostly the wine,” said Marusak.
More than a dozen restaurants and liquor establishments set up tables and participants strolled from booth to booth, sampling the appetizers, sliders, desserts and wines from local merchants.
“I love to come and sample all of this and see what’s around,” said psychotherapist Michael Krupa. “People are reemerging in public again after COVID.”
Two women from the Gräem chocolate and nut store said they were new to the event, since they opened in 2019 and had to shut down as the pandemic closed Main Street. They served dried fruit and chocolate in small paper cups to a crowd that gathered around.
John Gallagher managed the Fiorella’s booth, showcasing Italian meatballs and cannoli. He said the pandemic was “very, very difficult” for business, as he had to adapt to a changing post-pandemic world. He was heartened by the enthusiastic crowd.
“I’m here to celebrate the community,” said Sheila Watts as she balanced small plates of antipasto from the Cheese Shop and sweets from Concord Teacakes.
“We are bringing our sweet goodness to the community,” said Teacakes owner Peter Mahler. He is a Concord Rotarian who emphasized that the organizations support one another.
Bedford residents Elise and Marc Randazzo’s daughter is a student at Nashoba Brooks who heard about the event and the family wanted to check it out. They weren’t disappointed.
Bundles of wine were for sale on the floor, and the “Rivers Between” band performed indie-folk music.
Select Board member Mary Hartman attended. It was her first “Taste.”
“I was curious,” Hartman said. “I’m amazed. The food is excellent. It’s great to taste and compare the different things.”
Chamber Board of Directors President Marie Foley made the rounds, greeting well-wishers and bringing food to event staffers.
“It’s a fabulous night,” said Foley. “We haven’t been out in three and a half years. At every table, I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in a while.”
Woods Hill Table/Adelita’s
The Cheese Shop
The Colonial Inn
Debra’s Natural Gourmet
Graem Nuts and Chocolates
Farfalle Italian Market
West Village Tavern
The Pesce Network/Dunkin
Middlesex Savings Bank
Middlesex Insurance Agency
Town of Concord