Flavor of SLO will say, “Cheers!” to its second annual event Sunday afternoon at Mitchell Park. A showcase and tasting of different wineries, breweries and restaurants in San Luis Obispo County, the event aims to bring the community together for an afternoon among local tastes.
Last year’s event proved a success, attracting 300 locals and making a profit. As a fundraiser for Alpha Pregnancy Counseling & Support and United Way, the profits support local causes.
“We actually did profit a little bit, which is a pretty big deal for a first-time event,” event creator and Cal Poly alumna Jessica Sisco said.
Sisco came up with the concept for the event after attending a similar function in her hometown of Chico, which featured several restaurants she hadn’t known about. She said she wanted to bring a similar event to San Luis Obispo to not only promote local businesses, but to also expose the non-profits — not to mention serve as her senior project.
“I think in general, people are more willing to go to an event if they know that it’s not a for-profit event,” Sisco said. “Knowing that the proceeds are going to a good cause — it was just a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
To fund the event, Sisco teamed up with Alpha and United Way to be the beneficiaries, with United Way covering finances and both organizations sharing the profits. Both organizations were excited to get involved. Executive director of San Luis Obispo ALPHA Jen Miller said the group was happy to support Sisco’s senior project.
“We are really supportive of Cal Poly seniors and really trying to capitalize on their endeavors and dreams and goals,” Miller said. “Cal Poly students have so much enthusiasm. We really like working with them, and it’s a great event for us.”
Employees at United Way, an organization that focuses on education, income and health, said the students help bring United Way to the campus and community. Program assistant Rachel Cementia said they liked the innovation in marketing.
“I think it’s something we want to be involved with because it was an idea that the students brought to use — it was something new that we’ve never done. We’re always looking for new ways to raise funds,” Cementia said.
Business administration senior Laney Beal will head this year’s event. The project manager has been working since fall of 2009, beginning with recruiting a team of six. Beal said she wanted to take on the event to explore a different side of marketing.
“This gave me an opportunity to get into an area of event planning that I haven’t worked in before,” Beal said.
Planning an event involving vendors from all over San Luis Obispo County has been no easy feat, Beal said. From contacting more than 100 vendors to marketing and promoting to attaining proper licensing, Beal said the most challenging part has been booking the vendors during a popular tasting time.
“A lot of the restaurants are really spread thin when it comes to tastings. San Luis Obispo can only support so many of these,” Beal said.
One such restaurant is Splash Café, which is committed to several other similar events like Taste of Pismo and Taste of SLO. Owner Joanne Currie said the restaurant is happy to return to Flavor of SLO because of the laid-back atmosphere.
“I liked that it was located in Mitchell Park — it’s a nice venue. It’s really comfortable for everybody and family-oriented. It’s like a hometown thing,” Currie said.
Despite the limited availability and budgets, the team was able to sign three breweries, eight wineries and 10 restaurants, all offering either a tasting or small plate sampling. Vendor coordinator and business administration junior Heather Springer said she was surprised at the number of eateries in the area that she hadn’t heard of.
“I had no idea how many restaurants and breweries there were in San Luis Obispo County. It’s been fun to explore the area and what else there is to offer. Eighty percent of the places I contacted, I didn’t know existed before this event,” Springer said.
Working on the project all year has helped breach the boundaries of usual school projects for Springer. She said she is excited to transfer her acquired business skills to a real-life function.
“It was just a really unique learning opportunity to actually create something that was going to happen as opposed to just writing a business plan. It’s something that I can tangibly see come through then reflect back on,” Springer said.
The combined efforts of the students and organizations should prove to deliver another successful event, and if anything, a relaxing day downtown. Beal said she hopes people will recognize the affordable price for such a variety.
“This event is about half the price of most of the other tasting events in the San Luis Obispo area. When you’re a student, funds are limited. And if you want to get involved in the community, this is by far the best deal. We wanted it to be accessible by everyone,” Beal said.
The all-ages event is held from 12 to 4 p.m., with tickets available for presale on the Flavor of SLO website. Presale food and wine sampler tickets are $30 for the general public and $27 for students; presale food sampler tickets are $20 for the public, $18 for students and $5 for kids. Prices increase at the door, with a flat rate of $35 for food and wine sampler tickets and $25 for food sampler. The food and wine sampler plate is for those with a valid 21 and older ID.