A taste of our town

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Century Grille Building was stuffed March 22 with food, wine and people as part of We Lead's first major fundraiser of the year, the 'Taste of West Liberty.'

The event's main focus was a kickoff and introduction to the Iowa Best Bite Restaurant Competition that will be held by Opposable Thumbs and We Lead later this year.

Plenty of people had the opportunity to peruse the building to be used by the winners of the competition while reading several signs that highlighted upcoming West Liberty projects.

"This is awesome, with around 130 tickets presold," said building owner Jerry Melick. "It's really nice to see this place packed again."

With pre sales at $25 a ticket and walk-ins at $30 the event ended up selling over 150 tickets by the end of the evening.

It boasted wine tasting from several wineries throughout Iowa, including Ardon Creek off of Highway 22, Brick Arch of West Branch, and Grape Escape near Des Moines.

Local Grounds made a presence on the second floor, serving the several wines and beers it makes available during the weekend when it operates as a wine bar.

Food also lined the halls. Jeff's Market, JB's Bar and Grill, El Patio, Gaby's Burrito and Giri's BP were a few of the local vendors present.

"I think its a wonderful turnout, a beautiful venue and a good cause," said community member Carol Cline. "Shannon seems to be a real go-getter, I love how she's submerged herself in the town."

We Lead Executive Director Shannon McNaul organized the event with help from Training and Leadership Development Specialist Dauna Kiser. McNaul took on the role late last year.

She's been working to increase We Lead's presence and impact on the the community of West Liberty. The purpose of the organization is to build and develop local area businesses and the appearance of West Liberty.

"I'm so very fortunate to be here, and I'm thrilled to have a chance to be in this community," said McNaul during an announcement. "West Liberty has some amazing things in it, the biggest for us will be Iowa's Best Bite this year."

Also present was Bryan and Angie Schultz, owners of Opposable Thumbs which is in charge of Iowa's Best Bite.

West Liberty will be the third time they've run the restaurant competition, which pits possible restaurant chefs and owners against each other in a cook off. The community and We Lead ultimately choose the winner.

"The reception here has lived up to our wildest dreams," said Bryan, "We can tell the people here are excited for something new."

We Lead is still in the process of accepting competitors, as well as community members to be on the taste testing panel. To learn more visit www.weleadiowa.org or www.iowasbestbite.com.
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