Friday, October 2nd 2020, 6:19 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers
TULSA, Okla. –
Green Country restaurants have the chance to showcase their food, wine, and craft beers this weekend at the Gathering Place.
The Willow Beach Wheels & Wine food festival is a signature event that helps restaurants in the Tulsa area raise money after facing tough financial times over the past few months. As the effects of COVID-19 have taken a toll on the economy, the Gathering place is hosting an event to give local restaurants a little hope on Saturday, October 3.
Organizers said the car partners include Jackie Cooper Imports, Hood & Associates, and Tesla Owners of Oklahoma. Restaurants participating include Bohemian Woodfire Pizza & Homemade Pasts, Doc’s Wine & Food, Ghost Dragon Express, Peacemakers Lobster & Crab Co., Sisserou’s Caribbean Restaurant & Catering, and Wild Fork
Ilana Velazquez is an owner of Sisserou’s Restaurant. She said it’s already an unpredictable business, but COVID-19 is devastating Tulsa’s restaurant industry, forcing her to reinvent operations.
“The struggle has been real,” Velazquez said.
That’s why she and Tiffany Turner Coats with McNellie’s Group said events like Willow Beach Wheels & Wine aren’t just important, they’re imperative.
“We’re a destination restaurant,” said Velazquez. “We are a place that people go to escape all the issues that happen around them, and we’re trying to be that transport to the island.”
“We have absolutely had to change the way that we operate, and we have to be flexible,” said Coats. “We’re constantly pivoting to keep things moving.”
Coats said that despite the struggle, everyone has rallied together to get through these unprecedented times.
“We’re at a point now that we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, so we’re really excited about what’s to come,” said Coats. “We need an event like this to get people out together in the community, because a lot of people have been so isolated and haven’t had that interaction for quite some time. We’re just thrilled to be out and be a part of this.”
Owner of Hood and Associates Paul Hood said he’s excited to showcase his exotic cars and support America’s working class.
“They all worked their tail off,” said Hood. “They took advantage of the opportunities in the greatest country in the planet, and we just want to share some hope, some excitement, and some fun. Encourage people to get back out. Let’s get this thing going again and support the restaurants. Support the Gathering Place and just have a good time amid all of the negative that’s going around.”
Organizers like Tony Moore said the event features culinary food and drink pairings, more than 30 exotic cars, and live music.
“This is just a simple assistance, and just identifying six food operators and giving them the opportunity to sell and whatever they sell they keep,” said Tony Moore, executive director of Gathering Place. “It’s just a way that the Gathering Place is just trying to give back, and really whatever we can do to energize the economy.”
Organizers said anyone can come out on Saturday and see the cars for free, with a small fee ranging from $3-$5 for sampling the food. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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