It’s finally summertime here in the Southern Tier - the season most of us spend more than half the year (shivering) and looking forward to. Truly, nothing is better this time of year than a day on the lake, in the park, on the golf course, or enjoying one of the many high character, signature events our region has to offer. One of said events on deck very soon, is none other than ‘The Taste of Olean’, now in its 25th year of existence. With more than 50 restaurants in the Greater Olean area registered, this event cannot be missed. Read on to find out all of the delicious details for this incredible event.
The Taste of Olean gained its inception back in 1991, with the Olean Business Improvement Association and Jamestown Community College collaborating to bring the event to light. Originally held in Lincoln Park, the event was a no-brainer, due to the variety and sheer number of restaurants in the area. With so many restaurants involved, upwards of 7,500 people came out to sample cuisine from their favorite area chefs. The event eventually migrated to North Union Street, but has now settled on the Cattaraugus campus of Jamestown Community College (260 North Union Street), where it has been since 2003.
This year, the event will take place on Sunday, July 26 from 11am-5pm. It’s important to note that this event is extremely cost effective for families, with all food items ranging between $.50 & $3.50. The Taste has certainly evolved over the years, and we were fortunate to catch up with Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer Meme Yanetsko to find out more!
TASTE OF OLEAN
Of course all of the familiar culinary favorites will be in place, including the Beef & Barrel, Randy’s Up the River, Good Times of Olean, Main Street Sweets and more. Yanetsko revealed, “This year, the Taste Committee is adding an amazing ‘Taste’ race for all the local bars, restaurants and community members to participate in, dubbed the inaugural ‘Taste of Olean Best Service in Town Competition’.” Organized by the Olean Sports & Social Club, here’s how it works: teams will maneuver through a mock restaurant setting, taking orders, setting tables, as well as the typical surprises associated with the service industry. Teams will be awarded points on accuracy, timeliness, and of course demeanor.
Also new this year is a Canned Goods Construction Contest (how cool is that!) GOACC created this contest to be a friendly competition between crews, and will benefit one of the local food pantries. The concept is simple: design and construct a structure made entirely of canned food goods within a 10’x10’x10’ space. Food items used in this contest will be generously donated to Loaves & Fishes. If you’re interested in participating don’t delay - deadline for entry is July 13.
In addition to these great new offerings, the ninth annual Hospitality Wall of Fame will be awarded once again at the Taste. This meaningful award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the service, food, and hospitality industries, and who may continue to do so for years to come.
CELEBRATE THE ARTS
While the bulk of this delicious festival revolves around food, it’s important to point out that the Taste of Olean will also feature the 66th annual ‘Art in the Park’ celebration with regional artists, activities and entertainment. Art In the Park is a juried fine arts show with a long-standing tradition of showcasing the finest art in southwestern NY and northwestern PA. Alongside the multitude of artists offering their works for sale, the Olean Theatre Workshop will host a Taste of Talent showcase, which is sure to amuse the expected large crowd. In addition, the Olean Family YMCA will bring their inflatables for youngsters to burn off some of that food-fueled energy from the day!
With so much to see and do (and most importantly - taste!) be sure to bookmark the Taste of Olean and Art In the Park on your calendar for Sunday, July 2. Sponsored in part by the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce (and its 46 corporate sponsors), National Grid, A Jason Clemons Salon, and THE MOUNTAIN radio station, this event has a plethora of prominent backers to help ensure a high quality, fun, and most importantly scrumptious event. There’s no cost for admission; simply purchase your food tickets at the event, and get to sampling the great offerings. For more information, call the Greater Olean Area Chamber at 716-372-443 or visit www.oleanny.com
RESTAURANT SPOTLIGHT: RANDY’S UP THE RIVER
The Taste of Olean spotlights some of the best bars and restaurants in the greater Olean area. Among them are Randy’s Up The River and Randy’s Fireside, both owned and operated by – you guessed it – a guy named Randy.
Rewind 27 years ago … Randy Korkowicz, who after spending countless hours on the ‘other side’ of the bar as a truck driver and music technician, decided he wanted to put his own spin on the restaurant industry. So he purchased the restaurant. Now almost three decades later, it appears his gamble has paid off, with Randy’s Up The River being a staple in the St. Bonaventure fabric, and Randy’s Fireside becoming one of the nicer ‘sit down’ steakhouses in the region. The Summer Local caught up with Randy to talk about his restaurants, and to pick his brain about what he plans to offer at the upcoming Taste of Olean …
PAT: The Taste will be here before we know it. How long have you guys been involved, and what do you have in store this year?
RANDY: Let’s see … I guess we’ve been involved around five years now, although we should have been involved for much longer. It’s such a great event, seeing so many new and old faces. We always look forward to people visiting us at the restaurant after sampling what we have to offer at the Taste. We’re known for our famous ‘24kt Wings’ (a variation of a BBQ sauce with a finishing kick), our pulled pork sliders are always a hit, and our burgers. To be honest, I’m not sure what we’re going to do just yet for this year’s event, but I have a feeling the pulled pork will be on the menu, as we use our ‘fall off the rib meat’ to make these awesome little sandwiches. Not to be missed!
PAT: Any good stories? Horror stories from the kitchen?
RANDY: (chuckles) … Well, I don’t have one good story off the top of my head. Everyone knows the kitchen can be a real crazy place from time to time. One thing I will say, is that we’re fairly positive that Randy’s Up The River is haunted, having been standing since the 1800’s. You want to talk about Food & ‘SPIRITS’ … we’ve got you covered!
PAT: Who would you rather have visit - Jon Taffer (Bar Rescue) or Chef Gordon Ramsey (Kitchen Nightmares)?
RANDY: Hmm … this is a good one! Well, I guess both could come. I know Taffer would like to scream about Pepsi guns not being cleaned out and things of that nature, but he’d be pretty let down as we run a tight ship in terms of our cleanliness and service, so he wouldn’t have anything to yell about. I guess I’d love to have Chef Ramsey here though, as I know he’s a stickler on fresh rather than frozen food, and portion size. Our portions are great for the price, and we always use fresh ingredients like handmade burgers, and fresh fish for our famous beer batter fish fry on Friday evenings. At the end of the day, we don’t have any nightmares or rescues needed!
PAT: Any closing words?
RANDY: Actually yes - I want everyone to know why we’re successful, and what every restaurant NEEDS to know to have success. You need to have an incredible staff behind you, and that’s exactly what I have - a passionate, loyal, and fun staff. They’re what make both restaurants successful, and I can’t thank them enough for all they do for the team. It’s really a special thing!
Randy’s Up The River: 3767 South 9 Mil Road, Allegany, NY 14706, phone 716-372-9606. Randy’s Fireside: 1644 Haskell Road, Olean, NY 14760, phone 716-373-3473.