By Jill Keppeler
Niagara Gazette — It brings new meaning to the term "doggy bag."
Today, Western New Yorkers who eat out at many local restaurants can also help feed the region's four-legged creatures as part of The Big Chew, an event to support the programs and services of the SPCA Serving Erie County.
Bethany Kloc, SPCA special events planner, said this is the third year of the event, which raised about $10,000 last year.
"We are really excited that we have so many restaurants on board, and we have a few new ones this year," she said. "The (SPCA) Whisker Wag'n is going to be visiting a few restaurants. It's just a delicious day."
Most restaurants are donating 25 percent of their proceeds from breakfast, lunch or dinner or a combination of the three. A number are also allowing their diners to round their bills up to the nearest dollar and donate that amount to the SPCA.
In additional, Nature's Select of Western New York (naturesselectofwny.com) will donate $10 for every 40- or 50-pound bag of food sold today, or $5 for any 20- to 25-pound bag, Kloc said.
"So there's something even for the animals this year," she said. "It's really cool that they do it."
A few restaurants are planning special events around the day. JP Bullfeathers of Buffalo will host an event with a complimentary buffet, cash bar and karaoke and a DJ starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for gift baskets will be sold and all money will be donated to the SPCA. The SPCA's Whisker Wag'n, with animals available for adoption, will visit from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Whisker Wag'n will also vist Lisa & Bob's Citta' di Militello of Buffalo, another participating restaurant, from 5 to 7 p.m. today.
Muscoreil's Fine Desserts & Bistro of North Tonawanda, the sole participating restaurant in Niagara County, will be taking part in The Big Chew for its second year, said owner David Muscoreil.
"Anything with the SPCA, we support very strongly," he said. "I think it's an awesome program, a great idea and I think more businesses should step up for our four-legged friends who don't have a voice."
Muscoreil himself is the owner of five dogs, including two new four-legged family members who were abused in their former situation, he said.
"They have hearts of gold," he said. "I salute the SPCA and everyone who works for the program. All you have to do is provide love and food and warm shelter ... I don't know why that's so hard for some people.
"We need to all band together and stand up for the SPCA. I challenge all business owners and families and customers to stand up and help the SPCA or adopt an animal."
In another Tonawanda-area location, Squire's Tap Room, 127 Niagara St., Tonawanda, will donate 25 percent of lunch and dinner purchases to the SPCA. Lloyd Taco Truck will be appearing at the SPCA itself, 205 Ensminger Road, Town of Tonawanda, and donating a portion of the evening's proceeds.
In Buffalo, the participating restaurants are Acropolis, 708 Elmwood Ave. (participating Wednesday); Betty's, 370 Virginia St.; Chef's Restaurant, 291 Seneca St.; Coco by Le Metro, 888 Main St.; Coles Restaurant, 1104 Elmwood Ave.; Daddio's Pizzeria, 1247 Hertel Ave.; JP Bullfeathers, 1010 Elmwood Ave.; La Dolce Vita, 1472 Hertel Ave.; Larkin Filling Station, 745 Seneca St., Larkin Square; Lisa & Bob's Citta' di Militello, 760 Wehrle Drive; Merge, 439 Delaware Ave.; and Solé Restaurant, 810 Elmwood Ave.
In Amherst, participating restaurants are My Burger Bar, 3061 Sheridan Drive; Oh Pour L'amour Du Chocolat, 4776 Main St.; and Sonoma Grille, 5010 Main St. Restaurants in Williamsville are Buffalo Brew Pub, 6861 Main St., and Sweet Jenny's, 5732 Main St.
Maryan's Bar and Grill, 4921 Broadway, Depew, will participate, as will the Coyote Cafe, 36 Main St., Hamburg.
Restaurants with multiple locations are Olympic Restaurant, 1601 Military Road, Kenmore, and 4611 Genesee St., Cheektowaga; Pizza Plant Italian Pub, 5110 Main St. and 7770 Transit Road, Williamsville; and Cheeburger Cheeburger at 3701 McKinley Parkway, Blasdell, and 1593 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.IF YOU GO • WHAT: The Big Chew to benefit the SPCA Serving Erie County • WHEN: Today • WHERE: At least 29 locations throughout Erie County. Visit yourspca.org to view the full list.