Take Out 25 Oak Park, the online community dedicated to supporting local restaurants, hosted its third Taste the Town event on June 24. The event raised more than $25, 000 for New Moms and five Austin and Galewood area restaurants. 

Two hundred tickets were sold, and funds raised through ticket sales were dispersed through a predetermined formula. New Moms earned more than $5,000 in donations and took $10 of each $85 dollar bag sold. Ben’s Bar Be Cue, Catering Out of the Box, Schweet Foods and Wild Fish and Beef are each expected to earn $3,100 for their participation in the fundraiser. 

Last minute challenges prevented Butter and Brown Bistro from participating in the event and their offerings were not included in the bag. Austin Schramer, licensed environmental health practitioner with the Oak Park Health Department, was on site and determined the food delivered by Butter and Brown Bistro did not meet temperature requirements for safe service. All participants were made aware of strict temperature requirements prior to the event.

“While it was unfortunate it played out this way, we couldn’t have made a different choice; the decision was made with safety and community health in mind,” said Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 founder and a village trustee. “I want to reassure the restaurant owner that there will be money coming their way to cover their food costs.”

Parakkat admits they had a difficult time getting the word out about the change in food quantity leading to frustration among some participants. In an apologetic post to Facebook, Taste the Town organizers expressed appreciation for members’ patience, understanding and support and offered a $15 refund to account for the unexpected shortage. 

The response to the post has been overwhelmingly positive with many people showing support for New Moms, Takeout 25, and Butter and Brown Bistro specifically. Commenters noted “these things happen” and declared the meal “delicious” and one reminded people to have “compassion” for the restaurant. 

“There have been a few refund requests, but I do not expect it will be so much that Butter and Brown will not be able to cover their costs,” said Parakkat. 

Parakkat indicated that Lanell Brown, co-owner of  Butter and Brown Bistro, was disappointed the food he prepared could not be included in the Taste the Town bag.  As a result, Brown is offering a 10% discount to any Taste the Town participant who did not take the refund option. Brown has a list of people qualified for the discount. He looks forward to welcoming guests into his restaurant at 420 Austin Blvd. in Oak Park.

Parakkat indicated that Lanell Brown, co-owner of Butter and Brown Bistro, was disappointed the food he prepared could not be included in the Taste the Town bag. As a result, Brown is offering a 10% discount to any Taste the Town participant who did not take the refund option. Brown has a list of people qualified for the discount. He looks forward to welcoming guests into his restaurant at 420 Austin Blvd. in Oak Park.

Both Wild Fish and Beef and Ben’s Bar Be Cue built an overage into their contributions allowing organizers to add extra food to many of the bags later in the evening.

Though Parakkat knows he and the Takeout 25 team will learn and grow from this experience he is undeterred and aims to host another Taste the Town event in late summer.

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