When the 20th annual Bowls & Books Soup Fest was cancelled one week before the event last March, organizer Sharon Rossow was left with 400 mugs with 2020 printed on them.
Instead of smashing each and every one of them — an idea that generated discussion — Rossow came up with a new format to sell the mugs and support local businesses during a time of need.
The event, sponsored by Copy Center and Lakeside Players, is offering its signature Bowls & Books mug and a punch card good for a free cup of soup (with meal or sandwich purchase) at 13 local participating restaurants through January.
The cost is $25. A punch card without the souvenir bowl is $20.
Proceeds go towards ongoing renovation at the Rhode Center for the Arts, 514 56th St.
“We wanted to do something to help the Rhode and all of the restaurants involved as well,” said Rossow, whose mother Judy Rossow started the event in 2001. “January is always a difficult month for restaurants even before Covid was involved. It’s been especially difficult for them.”
Participating restaurants include:
- Ashling on the Lough
- Boat House Pub & Eatery
- Captain Mike’s
- The Coffee Pot
- Franks Diner
- Morelli’s Deli
- Ruffolo’s Pizza
- Sazzy B
- The Buzz
- The Down Town’R Saloon
- Twisted Cuisine
- Union Park Tavern
The single-day event typically raises about $10,000, according to Sharon Rossow.
Sixteen local eateries competed for local bragging rights in the March 2019 event — eight in each of the lunch and dinner sessions — dishing out classics like Roasted Vegetable and Chicken with Rice along with more creative offerings like Bacon Grilled Cheese and Jalapeno Popper.
Organizers looked forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the event.
“With 2020 being an election year, that always seemed to bump up the attendance,” Sharon Rossow said. “It was a good opportunity for elected officials to rub elbows. A lot of them would’ve been there anyway. It was always a good way for them to talk to people and be seen.”
With safety restrictions still in place, it appears the event won’t resume in-person until March 2022, according to Sharon Rossow.
Local residents unable to purchase punch cards can still support the Rhode Center for the Arts through a 50/50 raffle offered at www.rhodecenter.org. The winner will be drawn live on Jan. 15 via Facebook live.