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Five hundred discover downtown Cape during Wine and Food event

By Staff | Nov 16, 2008

CONNOR HOLMES Caroline Staten and Thelma Swanson serve wine to Judy and Michael Joyce at June’s Hallmark during the fourth annual Wine and Food Tasting Downtown.

About 500 Cape residents drank wine and enjoyed a painter’s palate of fine cuisine as the sun set downtown during the fourth-annual Wine and Food Tasting event Saturday evening.

Attendees were able to ride the trolley system through the south Cape’s local business hub and taste red and white wines and various food items at 16 retail locations which had teamed up with Cape restaurants for the event.

June’s Hallmark, teamed up with Pete’s Philly Steaks, served Sauvignon Blanc and Mosolo Gleni Merlot along with red velvet and carrot cakes.

“Sales have been very brisk today,” said owner Jane Hartz. “A lot of people come in and say, ‘I didn’t even know this store was here.’ In this economy it helps tremendously.”

Hartz said, as many downtown businesses do, that she believes in “keep it in the Cape.”

However, she doesn’t take the phrase to mean keep people out of the Cape.

“We’ve had a lot of people from Fort Myers,” Hartz said.

Judy and Michael Joyce stopped off at June’s Hallmark as one of their various stops Saturday evening.

“We were very impressed with this,” Judy said. “It was great. There were several stores we weren’t aware of before.”

Designer Shoe Gallerie and Leapin’ Lizards served gourmet meatballs with Cabarnet Franc and Pinot Grigio.

“Many people did not even know we were here before this event,” said John Baumbach, owner of Designer Shoe Gallerie. “We were very impressed.”

The store, which had participated in several local events since its recent opening, was packed Saturday night.

“This one to us was the most successful event we’ve been in,” Baumbach said. “This was well organized.”

Baumbach said he hopes many people take advantage of the store’s Christmas gift cards and come back to do their holiday shopping.

“It was a very good turnout,” said CRA Marketing Director Helen Ramey. “We were very pleased because we had very good feedback from the participating retailers as well as the participating restaurants and the attendees.”

One thing the CRA hopes to gain from the event is a local knowledge and support of Cape businesses during the holiday shopping season.

“When you come to the downtown, you will see a lot of unique businesses,” Ramey said. “There is so much downtown that you don’t have to cross the bridge into Fort Myers.”

This year’s Wine and Food Tasting event proved successful as many Fort Myers residents came to the Cape to participate, Ramey said.

“I was glad to see the traffic was coming west instead of the exodus east,” she said. “I think that’s the main reason I do these events is to get that response of, ‘I had no idea we had all these wonderful businesses downtown.'”

The CRA holds various community events throughout the year, including the Fourth of July Red White & Brew event, the International Beer and Food Tasting and the Best Downtown Martini Competition to be held Jan. 31.