Paella, pastries, samosas and more: the smells of countless plates of food filled the air on Sunday as Taste of Ann Arbor — an event in which community members can enjoy bite-sized dishes from over 20 local restaurants — returned to the city for the first time since 2019.
Taste of Ann Arbor is hosted by the Main Street Area Association (MSAA), a local organization that works to ensure the prosperity of downtown businesses. The event also featured live music presented by Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch, a weekly outdoor concert series held in Ann Arbor over the summer that normally provides music for the event. Dishes ranged from $1 to $6 and were sold in tents spanning Main Street.
Joshua Glaspie, the general manager of The Circ Bar, said the event is a good way to bring in business and inform customers about The Circ Bar’s new menu items.
“It’s a great experience to get everybody back out and showcase all of the new stuff that we have post-COVID,” Glaspie said.
Taste of Ann Arbor was held virtually in 2020 and canceled in 2021 due to staff shortages, according to MSAA’s Facebook page.
Ann Arbor resident Sophia King helped run Cinnaholic’s booth at the event. King also said the event is good for business, adding that it allows people to indulge in food they might not normally try. This was Cinnaholic’s first time being featured at Taste of Ann Arbor after its Ann Arbor location opened in January.
“(Cinnaholic) also is an entirely plant-based business,” King said. “So I think it’s a good opportunity for people who don’t typically eat plant-based to go ahead and try it, and get different ideas and explore that realm of food.”
King also said the event demonstrated how the city of Ann Arbor has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s a good way to bring Ann Arbor back together after such a hard time on everybody,” King said.
Rackham student Chesta Jain said the event opened her eyes to new restaurants in the city.
“A lot of the places we had food from I’ve never been before, even though I’ve been here for three years,” Jain said. “So it lets you try different places and maybe go back to them afterwards when the fest is not going on.”
Jain, who is vegetarian, said the event had plenty of options for people who did not want to eat meat. She said that every restaurant offered at least two vegetarian options.
Rackham student Mashiat Rabbani said she appreciated the opportunity to spend time with her friends after a long period of limited contact with them.
“We would just get takeout and eat by ourselves, which is kind of sad,” Rabbani said. “But now you can have it with your friends and stuff, so I think that’s pretty nice.”
Joseph Ludwick, the general manager for Real Seafood Co., said he enjoys seeing the city come together at the event.
“Watching everyone love each other and be a part of this big community is something that we always appreciate,” Ludwick said.
Ludwich agreed with other vendors and attendees about what the event means for the community.
“It shows hope,” Ludwick said. “It shows that we were resistant. We’re able to make it through hard times, and with the support of our community, we’re able to keep pushing forward.”
Summer Managing News Editor Eli Friedman can be contacted at email@example.com.