Community Day offers 'Bite of Arlington' Sept. 19

ARLINGTON — The Sept. 19 "Bite of Arlington" and Community Day drew attendees in spite of gray skies, as vendors staffed their booths and a host of locations designated themselves as "bite stations," by offering low-price samples of their more popular foods, along Olympic Avenue.

Bev Angerbauer of the Local Scoop is an old hand at such events by now. As she dispensed chicken strips, homemade potato chips, gourmet cookies and cups of mushroom soup, she admitted that last year's offering of bratwurst from the Local Scoop seemed not to appeal to a lot of customers, which was why she switched it up with chicken strips this year.

"We make sure to sell what people like," Angerbauer said. "This is the best sampling of food that you can get downtown."

Steve Saunders became the new owner of the Rocket Alley Bar and Grill in March of this year, and his kids were serving up helpings of yakisoba for the "Bite of Arlington" Sept. 19.

"This is a family-run business," Saunders said. "It's me, my son, my daughter, my girlfriend and her daughter, plus our neighbors. We're a family-friendly environment that offers a new twist in gourmet food."

Saunders praised the city of Arlington for "bending over backwards" to help him establish his business in town, and likewise complimented the Arlington community for having "a lot of events that benefit everyone," including not only Community Day, but also the Duck Dash, the car show and various street shows.

"It's awesome," Saunders said. "There's a lot of different groups and volunteers that make this a really neat town."

David Boulton took time in between serving Italian sodas and double mochas at Irresistible Espresso to explain the history of the day's event, which started two years ago.

"It was very successful, so we wanted to continue it annually," Boulton said. "It's blossomed into all these different groups, from the city to local churches, supporting it in one big celebration. I'm in favor of any opportunity to bring people downtown."

Boulton reported that he'd fielded calls about the event throughout the preceding week, which he was "only too happy" to answer.

"I've seen people up and down this street all day," Boulton said. "Without Community Day, a lot of these people probably wouldn't even be here."

Yvonne Ito, owner of the recently opened "Three Peas in a Pod," appreciated the opportunity that "Bite of Arlington" afforded her restaurant to make itself known further to local diners. Three Peas in a Pod started up in May of this year, but its parent organization, LKI Family Services, has been sited in Arlington since 2001. Not only does the restaurant offer club sandwiches, paninis and lasagna, but it also serves as a training facility for at-risk youth.

"It gets them off the street and at work," Ito said. "It offers them hope and a chance to become involved in the community in a positive way."

LKI Family Services is a foster care and mental health agency, and Ito is grateful for the support that it's received from the Arlington community.

"I love being here," Ito said. "I have no intention of going anywhere else."

LKI Family Services was also represented among the host of booths in the Arlington City Hall parking lot. LKI Executive Director Maddy Krygier staffed a booth devoted to LKI's other Arlington-based branches, including Vision Quest educational and support services, and Vision Quest's spinoff, the Bookshelf community book store.

"I've been amazed by how supportive local businesses have been in serving as job sites for our youth," Krygier said.

The Old Bags of Arlington were also peddling their wares, including an assortment of shopping bags in different sizes and hand-painted, dishwasher-safe stemware glasses, each decorated to resemble a different celebrity. Judi Martin was the artist in residence at the booth, and she described Community Day as "a great opportunity to show your community spirit." Fellow "Old Bag" Betty Nelson expressed her appreciation for the event's "leisurely pace," just before she and all the other Old Bags in attendance spoke glowingly about Florence Pryor, a 93-year-old member of the group who's used such events to sell hundreds of dollars in raffle tickets.

"Folks can display what they do, at the same time that they get together and compare notes," Martin said of Community Day.

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