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Three local restaurants will participate in YCAP's second annual Yamhill County Meltdown

As it turns out, February is grilled cheese sandwich season. SETH GORDON - graphic phot0: seth gordon
Chelsea Carlile prepares Jem 100's specialty grilled cheese sandwich for the Yamhill County Melt Down, a fundraiser for the Yamhill Community Action Partnership Food Bank that will run throughout the month of February.

The Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP) food bank was pleasantly surprised to discover that peculiar truth after its grilled cheese sandwich fundraiser, the Yamhill County Melt Down, was a resounding success last winter.

"We realized this was a really cool, symbiotic relationship where we can help restaurants get more customers during the low time of year and offer super yummy comfort food to our community and raise some money for the food bank," said Diane Longaker, resource development coordinator for the food bank. "There is absolutely everything great about that combination."

The event raised $2,000 in two weeks, but it was the boost in business at the 10 restaurants that participated, nine of which were in McMinnville and one in Lafayette, that convinced Longaker that she had stumbled upon something special.

One restaurant, Community Plate in McMinnville, reported that its business nearly tripled from the same period last year.

That's why YCAP has expanded the event not only to include 20 restaurants across the county, including Jem 100 and Ruddick/Wood in Newberg and Red Hills Market in Dundee, but to run for the entire month of February.

"We figured people can't eat 20 sandwiches in two weeks," Longaker joked. "But if you have 28 days, then maybe you can try."

Last year's winner, The Diner in McMinnville, took home a plaque and the title of "Biggest Cheese" for selling the most sandwiches at 265.

"It was amazing," Longaker said. "They kept it on their menu for the rest of the year and next week will be presenting us a check because they kept donating that $1 from the sandwich."

The size of the donation varied last year, but all restaurants will donate $2 per sandwich this year, giving it the potential to be boon to the food bank every winter, too.

"My hope is that we can raise $10,000 this year," Longaker said.

YCAP will also offer small rewards, like T-shirts and gift cards, for people who share on social media when they dine out.

There is also a punch card and those who make it to 10 restaurants will be entered into a drawing for one bigger prize (to be disclosed later).

Regrettably, Longaker said she had to turn down eight restaurants who didn't respond in time, so it wasn't a tough sell to get 10 more on board.

"It was a no brainer," Paul Losch of Ruddick/Wood said.

Losch said Ruddick/Wood's sandwich will come on its new house-made rye bread and feature halumi and blue cheeses, pumpkin butter and sage pesto.

"Halumi is a firm Greek cheese that is traditionally seared off or grilled anyways, so we figured it would be fun to actually grill the cheese on our wood-fired grill," Losch said.

Jem 100's consists of Swiss, pepperjack and Tillamook cheddar cheeses on Texas Toast with pepper bacon, barbecue sauce and, in a nod to their own specialty, a burger patty.

Red Hills Market will also use three cheeses, along with apple-bacon jam, on sourdough and will sell tomato and basil soup as an accompaniment.

For more information on the event, visit the Melt Down page at www.yamhillcap.org.

For descriptions of each participating restaurant's sandwiches, read the online version of this story at www.newberg graphic.com.

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