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Locals travel the globe in downtown Cape during International Beer and Food Tasting

By Staff | Sep 22, 2008

Packed trolleys, drinks, good food, live music and friendly chatter were the staples by which one might judge the success of the third annual International Beer and Food Tasting in downtown Cape Coral Saturday night.

In all, the event sold out 1,000 “passports” used by residents to ride the public trolleys to local eateries for food and beer samples from around the world.

“It’s nice to come over and do something fun when the economy is (doing poorly),” said Craig Rehard, a Fort Myers resident. “I like being outside.”

Rehard came to whet his palate with friend Robert Fox from Lehigh Acres. Saturday marked Fox’s second year coming to the event.

“I really enjoyed it last year so I decided to bring my friends,” Fox said. “This here is great. Good music…good food and fun walking the streets.”

The event kicked off at 7 p.m. and ran until 11 p.m., allowing attendees to visit the various downtown locations such as the Pearl Lounge, Mardi Gras and Ralph’s Place.

The Twisted Conch, located at 837 S.E. 47th Terrace, offered Presidente beer from the Dominican Republic, along with chicken wings from their usual menu. Live acoustic music streamed through the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

“We’re very busy,” said restaurant owner Dave Chafin. “Any time you can bring 900 people to downtown it’s great.”

Meanwhile, the Monkey Bar and Grill at 1428 Lafayette Street took on a Colombian theme after owner Claudia Garcia’s home country.

“We’re very busy tonight,” Garcia said. “We’re busier than I thought we would be. It’s a very good turn out for us. We got a lot of exposure from people that don’t know we’re here.”

The Monkey Bar has been open for two years in the Cape, and took on the theme of Holland in last year’s International Beer and Food Tasting — in recognition of her partner’s heritage, Garcia said.

Aguila beer and Empanadas were served.

Event coordinator Helen Ramey said she knew the event was a hit when 870 of 1,000 tickets were sold before Saturday night. The event has grown over last year, which brought about 800 people, she said.

“It’s been tremendous,” Ramey said. “It’s a great way to discover everything for a nominal price.”

Ramey, marketing director for the Community Redevelopment Agency, said the event was not put on in July this year because the CRA felt the “Red, White and Brew” celebration of native beers and foods better represented the values of Independence Day.

“International works better in the fall,” Ramey said.

The International Beer and Food Tasting event was $10 per “passport” and covered 11 downtown locations in promotion of the locally-adopted slogan, “keep it in the Cape.”