By Ashley Rader
Restaurants in Carter and Washington counties are being invited to support the creation of the Tweetsie Trail through a unique – and filling – fundraiser.
The Dine-Around event on April 1 and 2, sponsored by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, asks restaurants to join in by contributing 10 percent of each check from those two days toward the Tweetsie Trail project.
The Tweetsie Trail, a walking and biking trail that follows the route of the old Tweetsie Railroad tracks, will extend from Alabama Street in Johnson City to Snap-on Tools in Elizabethton. The first phase, which will run from the Alabama Street starting point to Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton, is expected to be complete by Labor Day 2014.
Tweetsie Trail Committee Chairman Dan Schumaier said the partnership would be a “win-win-win” for everyone who participates.
“It’s a win for the dining establishments; it’s a win for the Tweetsie Trail and it’s a win for the people in the area,” Schumaier said.
Tupelo Honey Café owner Steve Frabitore cooked up the idea for the Dine-Around fundraiser.
“Restaurants are already involved in the community,” Frabitore said. “This is one more way for everyone to come together. It is a simple project. The more participation there is, the more of a donation we can give to the Tweetsie Trail.”
Elizabethton Chamber President Keith Young said developments like the Tweetsie Trail promote “clean tourism,” in that the money used to fund the development was raised locally and the project would provide benefits to the surrounding area.
“This project is only going to enhance the quality of life,” Young said. “The cooperation and co-promotion will only help the community and the Tweetsie Trail.”
Coffee Company owner John Bunn said he was excited about the opportunity to help the Tweetsie Trail project.
“I wish we could zip ahead two years so we could see how this is going to benefit the community,” Bunn said. “I can’t wait until we can look back and see what we accomplished.”
Bunn said many community members and customers were interested in the Tweetsie Trail and wanted to see the project completed. He noted the fundraiser would give them the opportunity to get involved.
Elizabethton City Manager Jerome Kitchens said when the trail is finished it will provide a boost to the local economy. He noted the fundraiser gives the businesses that will be impacted by the trail a chance to participate in its development.
“This is an opportunity for private businesses to be involved in the process,” Kitchens said.
Frabitore encouraged citizens to tell their favorite restaurants that they would like for the business to participate in Dine-Around, and to eat at the participating restaurants during the fundraiser.
“Most people budget to eat out twice a month,” Frabitore said. “If you are going to eat at a restaurant, make it on these days.”
Teams from the Elizabethton and the Johnson City chambers of commerce will visit restaurants to share information and sign them up for the fundraiser.
Feb. 7 is the deadline for restaurants to sign up.