Annual chili competition showcases local restaurants

The third annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 23.

The event features ten downtown restaurants all vying for that evergreen bragging right: The best chili in town.

Of course, for Susie Maxwell, Executive Director of the Downtown Management Board and Downtown Development Authority, no matter which restaurant takes top prize, everyone’s a winner at the end of the day.

"We wanted to do more to highlight Bay City businesses in a time that’s not so busy, in the middle of winter," says Maxwell.

"Let’s get people outside and walking around downtown."

The Downtown Chili Cook-Off is designed to maximize foot traffic and new customers for area restaurants. Rather than have the contest in one central location, festival-goers travel from one restaurant to the next, sampling each kitchen’s chili along the way.

The format allows participating businesses to showcase their restaurants, drawing diners in from the streets. All ten restaurants are within walking distance of one another, and four of them are located at City Market.

"All of our events are important," says Maxwell, mentioning the Wine Walk and Apps & Ales as events similar in spirit.

"Different events bring different crowds, different sets of eyes downtown. Maybe they’ve never been in that particular restaurant and maybe they’ll want to come back."

Downtown Chili Cook-Off is a ticketed event. Capped at 300 tickets, Maxwell encourages those interested to buy their tickets while they can.

Pre-sale tickets are available for $10 at participating restaurants. Tickets are available for $12 the day of the event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Participating restaurants include American Kitchen, Asian Noodle, City Market Community Teaching Kitchen, The Devout Sprout, GCC Organics, Mulligan’s Pub, Old City Hall, Riverfront Grille, Tavern 101, and That Guy’s Meats.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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