Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Some clouds
65°
Some clouds
Hi 80° | Lo 52°

Northampton 'Dishcrawl' offers four restaurants in one night

  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday in front of McLadden's Irish Publick House on Pleasant Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night. McLadden's is the first stop and the only eatery that will be revealed before the night of the event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday in front of McLadden's Irish Publick House on Pleasant Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night. McLadden's is the first stop and the only eatery that will be revealed before the night of the event.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Iannaconi is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in Easthampton in one night.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

    Jennifer Iannaconi is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in Easthampton in one night.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday in front of McLadden's Irish Publick House on Pleasant Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night. McLadden's is the first stop and the only eatery that will be revealed before the night of the event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Jennifer Iannaconi is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in Easthampton in one night.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Jennifer Iannaconi poses Tuesday on Main Street in Northampton. She is arranging a Northampton Dishcrawl, an event where participants travel to four restaurants in one city in one night.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

— Jennifer Iannaconi, who is organizing the first ever “Northampton Dishcrawl,” said she gets a lot of blank stares when she tells people what she’s up to.

“‘A dish-what?’ I hear that a lot,” Iannaconi said while sipping a coffee at The Foundry on Main Street Tuesday afternoon.

A Dishcrawl is the foodie’s version of a pub crawl. Participants buy a ticket and go as a group to four restaurants in one city in three hours, eating, drinking and socializing while exploring the city on foot. The restaurants are kept secret until the night of the event, with the exception of the first stop, which is revealed a few days ahead.

“I’m hoping to draw people who live here and have their favorite places where they go all the time, but they don’t try new places. Maybe they’re a little afraid of trying something new,” Iannaconi said. “This way, they get to try four new places and I do all the work.”

Iannaconi, whose job title is Dishcrawl ambassador for the Pioneer Valley, said she plans to hold Dishcrawls in other local communities in the coming months. “I see it as trying new things in a new way,” she said.

The Dishcrawl was born in San Jose, Calif. in 2010 “based on the simple concept of bringing people together over food,” according to the start-up’s website, and has spread to hundreds of cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada. This is the area’s first Dishcrawl, Iannaconi says, but the company’s website lists ambassadors organizing events in Boston and Worcester.

Iannaconi said Northampton seemed like the most logical place to launch Pioneer Valley Dishcrawls because it is a lively, walkable destination with great restaurants. Now her only issue is that people signing up for Tuesday’s event keep pestering her for hints about which of those eateries they’ll be visiting.

“Some people like the mystery,” she said. “Some can’t stand not knowing.”

Iannaconi, 38, of Springfield, said she knew about pub and art crawls, but she hadn’t heard of Dishcrawls until she found an online advertisement for Dishcrawl ambassadors in December. She had just been laid off and was looking for a part-time marketing job. Since she’s a lover of dining out, it seemed like a great profit-sharing gig. “I’m a foodie, but not a cook. I make good reservations,” she joked.

So after a few weeks of paid training with Dishcrawl, she started organizing her own in Northampton, but trying to narrow it down to just four stops was difficult, she said. Once she chose the restaurants, working with owners to pick out the menu was fun and not a little mouth-watering.

Iannaconi let slip that the Northampton Dishcrawl Tuesday will start at 7 p.m. at McLadden’s Irish Publick House on Pleasant Street, a place she chose partly because it’s only been open for two months.

The $45 ticket includes all the food and tips for the night, but drinks are not included. They’ll sample small portions of entrees at the first three restaurants and get dessert at the final stop. Her stopwatch will go off after 30 minutes at each place to move the group along, but she’s planning for things to run a little late.

Like a pub crawl, it’s wise to pace yourself, she said. But she knows it might be hard not to fill up early with the tasty grub she’s picked out. “I’m going to bring take out containers just in case,” she said.

As of Friday, 19 tickets had been purchased; Iannaconi is hoping 40 people sign up. Tickets can be purchased up until Monday night. Iannaconi’s earnings come from the ticket sales; she splits the profits from the tickets with the restaurant and Dishcrawl.

After Tuesday, Iannaconi will focus her efforts on organizing other Discrawls.

“My goal is to hold them monthly,” she said. Next on her list is Easthampton, where she used to live, and Greenfield. She also has hopes of organizing a “food truck crawl,” where area food trucks all park in one spot for an evening of outdoor dining.

She wants to encourage diners to try places they never would have considered.

“I’m hoping people step out of their comfort zones,” she said.

For more information visit www.dishcrawl.com/pioneervalley.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.