A group of Catonsville restaurateurs are bringing back the Taste of Catonsville after a short hiatus to benefit the local nonprofit League of Dreams on Thursday, Feb. 27.
The Taste of Catonsville will feature dishes made by 14 restaurants, including Faidley Seafood, which this month officially purchased the former Plymouth Wallpaper building on Frederick Road with plans to open a restaurant in spring 2021. The event is sponsored by the Catonsville Restaurant Association, established in late November, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus Patapsco Council No. 1960.
Participating restaurants will serve one to three of their chef specialties, “a variety of anything from sliders to meatballs to ravioli [to] tuna nachos,” said organizer and Catonsville resident Greg Morgan.
Donated food will be provided by Black Kettle; Catonsville Gourmet; Chef Paolino Cafe; Dimitri’s International Grille; Duesenberg’s American Cafe & Grill; Edible Arrangements; Franco’s Italian Bistro; Iamp’s at Jennings Cafe; Kora Lee’s Cafe; Pat’s Porch; State Fare; Wieland’s Barbeque; and Farmhouse Greens.
Morgan started organizing the Taste of Catonsville dinners as executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce in 1996 to raise funds for the annual Catonsville Fourth of July parade. The fundraiser was discontinued due to waning restaurant participation after its 20th dinner in 2016, according to the chamber.
It returned as the Taste of 21228 in 2018, sponsored by the chamber and Knights of Columbus, to raise $15,000 for residents, businesses and employees who were devastated by the 2018 flooding in Catonsville, Oella and Ellicott City.
“We were looking for a way to raise money for residents” who were impacted, said Steve Hock, co-owner of Farmhouse Greens, and one of the lead organizers of the Taste of 21228 and the revamped Taste of Catonsville 2020.
This year, with the exception of taking 20% from ticket sales, proceeds raised by ticket buyers and from selling off auction items will go to the League of Dreams, the Catonsville-based nonprofit that adapts the game of baseball to be accessible to kids and adults with physical, emotional or developmental disabilities.
“We use the platform of baseball and softball to bring those children together,” said Frank Kolarek, League of Dreams founder and president.
“It builds teamwork, it builds confidence, it gives [players] experiences that they never would’ve had” without tailoring the game to their needs, the former Oakland Athletics catcher said.
The nonprofit, now in its 17th year, runs programming for 800 participants 9 months of the year, including summer camps and special needs baseball clinics, often with current and former Major League baseball players.
About 175 tickets priced at $50 for individuals and $400 for reserved tables of four sold out quickly for the Thursday event at the Knights of Columbus Patapsco Council’s building on Frederick Road from 6 to 10 p.m. The restaurant association has already raised around $11,000 through sponsorships and ticket sales, and hopes to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 total for League of Dreams, Morgan said.
Those who plan on attending have a chance to win one of eight themed raffle baskets containing — among other items — wine and liquor; movie theater gift cards and popcorn; or spices and extracts from Watkins Inc.
Live auction items include a free round of golf at Rolling Road Golf Club with a burger and beer, sponsored by Iamp’s at Jennings Cafe and a $100 gift card to Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant with four tickets to an Orioles home game.
Tony Don’t Play That, a Catonsville-based cover band, will perform 1980s music.
Hock, now president of the nine-member Catonsville Restaurant Association, said the group was founded in November in response to Catonsville’s Food Truck Thursdays, a weekly fundraiser for the annual Fourth of July celebration that Hock and other restaurant owners said inadvertently drew customers away from businesses when the trucks were positioned a block away from Frederick Road.
The association is also meant to support Catonsville’s growth “as a dining destination,” said Morgan,
Benefits of the restaurant association include networking opportunities for “ally” businesses like construction contractors and food service equipment providers, Morgan said.
“We just think it’s gonna be a great night and a lot of fun,” Morgan said about the Taste of Catonsville, which the association hopes to continue either once or twice a year. “We’re just surprised and totally thrilled with the amount of interest and the fact that it’s a sell out.”