Niagara Gazette

September 21, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: New location on the menu for Taste of Grand Island

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Diners — Let the fasting begin. Precisely one week remains before the annual sequel to the Taste of Grand Island, which organizational genius Corey McGowan thrust upon a hungrily-curious populace about 11 months ago.

We can hardly remember an event of similar scope launched with so few hitches. Even with the Viking football team playing at home, several restaurants ran out of items late in the day, which is fine with us, and then it rained just as things were starting to break down, perfect timing.

Even the fussiest of us couldn’t complain, although later in the day when the “B Team” cashiers caused some slow-down at the booths. Doug still has a ticket left over.

Government paid the Taste of Grand Island the ultimate compliment, proposing up a whole bunch of legislation to regulate such events. No matter what it is, government can always do it better. (Pause here while Doug searches, in vain, for a pen at the post office.) Actually, Supervisor Mary Cooke was pretty much on board from the beginning, and the flurry of post-event paperwork was no doubt intended to cover some seats.

Anyway, Corey himself wasn’t keen on the way the Taste kind of snaked around its venue, around the rear entrances to the various stores in our mid-town plaza. Part of last year’s Taste celebrated the brand-new mural which turned an eyesore into a colorful display of Island pride, and so it made sense to work around the centerpiece, even if it wasn’t in the center.

In short, Corey fairly felt that not all display spaces were created equal.

So this year, the Taste moves to the Boulevard itself, occupying one leg of the triangle which defines our town center (excuse the mathematical mixed metaphor.) McDonald’s is on that block, and so is Polly’s favorite nail place, and we can’t imagine what that portends, but if you were planning on a Big Mac or a lacquer job, we’d suggest going on Friday. The result should create a street festival atmosphere with booths lining the Boulevard.

Corey anticipates some 27 restaurants, recalling that when he first proposed this, he kept hearing “Taste of Grand Island? How much pizza can you serve?” We don’t have a LOT of choices over here, but we’re pretty diverse, including the Japanese fare of Serene Gardens and the New Orleans aromas of Dick & Jenny’s.

It’s the standard protocol, 50-cent tickets sold in various batches and exchanged for the goodies. It starts at 10 a.m., winds down about 8. Last year we actually went three times. We sent a flier to Rockin’ Rodney, our Liverpool card, who inquired by return mail, “So what’s an Island taste like?” Almost anything you want.

Come visit. Bring a bib.

E-mail Doug and Polly Smith at