In a win-win for area senior citizens, local restaurants and area foodies, Faith in Action offered their annual Savor the Flavor fundraiser in downtown Bentonville on Thursday evening (Sept. 15).
Savor the Flavor, held each year on separate evenings in Fayetteville and in Bentonville, is a self-guided walking restaurant tour and sampling of food and beverages from participating restaurants.
In Bentonville, 12 restaurants offered an abundance of food to about 400 food lovers who paid $40 each to sample such treats as cheap dates and stuffed bell peppers at Table Mesa, shrimp crab cakes at Tusk and Trotter, house made bologna with collard greens from Bentonville Butcher & Pint, and wild mushroom ravioli, wagon beef meatballs and roasted cauliflower and mushroom soup at Tavola Trattoria. Guests also enjoyed dishes from Two25Gallery & Wine Bar, Ramo d’Olivo, Bentonville Baking, Core Public House, Onyx Coffee Lab, YeYo’s, Spark Café, First National Bank of NWA, Foxhole Public House, Blu Fresh Fish Marketplace and Bentonville Brewing Company.
For participating restaurants, who donate the food they offer, the increased traffic into their restaurants raises the profile of their establishment and results in increased business throughout the year.
“They get folks that a lot of times haven’t had a chance to visit their establishment or haven’t gotten to taste their food or their drinks yet and they get to experience their food and also see the restaurant itself and the environment,” said Ryan Worley, Faith in Action manager.
All funds raised from the event go to support Faith in Action, a Washington Regional Medical Foundation volunteer-based organization, that provides free non-medical services to promote independence, dignity and quality of life for homebound seniors, who are more than 60 years old, in Washington and Benton counties.
Reid Combellack, general manager for Tavola Trattoria, said his restaurant participates because it introduces people to Tavola, as well as serving a good cause in the community.
“It’s a good time and it’s a great way to bring people out and introduce them to our restaurant and serves a great cause that we believe in and appreciate,” Combellack said.
Organizers hoped to raise more than $80,000 between the Bentonville and Fayetteville events to support Faith in Action’s mission. Worley said last year 96% of the money raised went directly back into the program.
“(That percentage) is a big deal – that our utilization of a dollar is that high,” Worley said. “A lot of times fundraisers are closer to 75 percent, which is the industry standard. That is a credit to our sponsor, to the restaurants and to all the volunteers that we can take 96 cents of every dollar and put it right back into the program.”
Harp’s is the presenting sponsor of Savor the Flavor.
New this year, Savor the Flavor Bentonville offered an after party in a room above Tavola Trattoria. Guests enjoyed beer, wine and a special cake from Harp’s Bakery. The band Dog Bicycle provided musical entertainment. Worley said he hoped that as a result of the evening guests would want to return to downtown Bentonville to enjoy the atmosphere and the restaurants, and that they would know more about Faith in Action.
“In the process (of attending the event), I hope they walk away with a sense of the organization they’re helping. That the time they spent around downtown Bentonville was incredibly beneficial to help out seniors in NWA,” Worley said. “I hope that makes the time they spent a little bit sweeter and gives a little more meaning to the evening they enjoyed and they food they enjoyed – quite simply that helped seniors enjoy meals of their own.”
Worley said that the charity is always looking for volunteers to help them serve senior citizens, whether that be in being involved in someone’s life, or a one time food and paper goods drive to help Faith in Action stock their food pantry.
Last year volunteers donated 4,177 hours of their time and drove more than 26,619 miles to provide services for 121 clients, according to Faith in Action. Services included chore assistance, friendly visits, grocery shopping, light home maintenance, transportation to appointments, errands telephone reassurance and yard work.