It’s not just about the food at Tastes of Wellington West

By Jacob Hoytema – 

Summer may be leaving for another year, but the best time to experience Wellington West is still yet to come.

Tastes of Wellington West returns Saturday, September 17. The event, organized by the Wellington West BIA, will welcome residents (as well as visitors from other parts of the city) to the neighbourhood to sample and discover the best of what local businesses have to offer. Locations from Hintonburg to Island Park Drive will be opening their doors with special displays, sales, and activities.

The event has occurred yearly since 2008. WWBIA Executive Director Zachary Dayler, says the event began after businesses wanted to thank local shoppers for supporting them through the street’s reconstruction phase in 2008.

“It really stems from a thanks to the K1Y,” Zach explains. “We want to focus on attracting new people to the area absolutely, but we can’t forget those who are [already] shopping here.”

This year, more than 100 businesses of various types are participating, both returning favourites and new participants.

One notable addition is the Brewery Market, which will be hosting a “Twist and Stout” tasting in Hintonburg Park, featuring stouts from breweries across the city, including Kichessippi Beer.

With a name like “Tastes” and a neighbourhood packed with diverse restaurants, the event had mainly been focused on food-based businesses in the past. Recent years, however, have seen a wider range of business types thinking creatively of how to take part.

For example, Kristen Atkinson, owner of the Mint Hair Studio and The Brooke Barbershop, is encouraging customers to bring donations to Parkdale Food Centre  (PFC) — a favourite charity supported by many of Tastes’ participating businesses.

“I think it’s really important to support them… I really like everything they’re about,” says Kristen, who has participated in Tastes for five years.

Chris Lavelle of Sushi Umi is supporting the same charity in a very ‘hands-on’ way. He’s giving customers the opportunity to roll their own sushi. Proceeds will be donated to PFC.

Chris Lavelle of Sushi Umi is one of the local businesses participating in Tastes of Wellington West. This year’s event is taking place on September 17.

Chris says the idea of making your own sushi has been well received. “People really like the experience,” says Chris, who also likens the process to a family taco night.

A Kitchissippi Times article covering last year’s edition of Tastes featured Carben Food + Drink, who were new to the area and participating for the first time. Owners Caroline Ngo and Kevin Benes say the experience helped them get to know the neighbourhood and establish some new clientele.

“Not a lot of people knew who we were… hanging out on the streets did us a lot of good,” says Kevin. Carben will be participating again this year, “and probably every year” according to Kevin and Caroline.

Alongside local businesses, Tastes is also an opportunity to showcase the area’s artists. Flo Glassblowing will host an outdoor trunk sale and teach glass classes, while Hintonburg painter ARPi will complete a mural at Maker House Co.

Also returning this year is the “Wellington Window Scrabble.” Participants can download a game card from the WWBIA website and fill it in with words hidden in various business’ window displays. Completed cards submitted by September 17 will be entered in a draw for one of five $100 gift cards.

For more information about Tastes of Wellington West go to


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