Culinary delights for literary heights 'Taste of Weehawken' fund-raising feast to aid Public Library
by : Jim Hague Reporter staff writer
Apr 14, 2001 | 1131 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Philip Greco figured it was time to take the next step. With the extensive $2 million restoration to the Weehawken Free Public Library complete, Greco, the library's executive director, needed to find a way to make more people aware of the palatial learning center located on Hauxhurst Avenue.

After all, the library should be more than the first identifiable building that motorists see when they drive up the helix after entering New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel. It should be more than the former home of a brewing baron.

"Now that the library has expanded and the restoration is completed, we wanted to be able to share the library with the rest of the community," Greco said last week.

The members of the dedicated Library Board started to pass around ideas that could serve as a social community event, while acting as a fundraiser to help the library establish further programs.

The result of the discussions was the organization of the library's first fund raising effort, "A Taste of Weehawken," which will be held Tuesday, April 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Food Court at Lincoln Harbor in the PaineWebber building on Harbor Boulevard.

More than 20 local restaurants and food service groups will donate culinary delights for people to sample. The restaurants will not get any money from the event, so the admissions price will go solely to benefit the library. Some of the local restaurants participating include Arthur's Landing, Spirito Grill, the Chart House, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Dry Dock Restaurant from Weehawken, Amanda's, the Brass Rail, the Madison Bar and Grill and the City Bistro of Hoboken, as well as local catering outlets such as Anthony David Gourmet Specialties and Table Tales Catering.

Each participating restaurant has donated two dishes for people to sample. Also, Sparrow's of Hoboken has donated all the wine for a wine-tasting exhibition.

"It's the best of the best," Greco said. "We're very proud that all of the Weehawken restaurants are all participating, as well as several other fine restaurants. Our patrons who love the library have been asking to do something like this and we're excited and happy to be doing so."

The Weehawken High School Jazz Ensemble will provide the entertainment and the floral displays will be done by the Ikenobo Ikabana Society of New Jersey, which is a 500-year-old Japanese floral arrangement in the Ikenbono tradition.

All of the proceeds from the evening will go to the Weehawken Free Public Library, in order to establish children and adult programs and to enhance the library's historical preservation project.

"Our patrons have been asking for different programs, like having authors come to speak at the library, to have poetry readings, presentations on yoga and Feng Shui," Greco said. "These programs cost money to organize. The government can only allow us to do so much with general operations. We need to raise funds to do the other programs."

Added Greco, "Plus, we need funds to maintain our Internet safety and upkeep our historical perspective. We have documents that date back more than 200 years that need to be preserved. And we need to set up an area in the basement that is climate controlled that would preserve the documents. All of this goes over and above the money we receive from the government and from tax dollars. Now that the library has expanded, we have the ability to do more things."

Barbara Murphy, the president of the Library Board, agreed.

"We have this gorgeous library and we want the people to come," Murphy said. "We have to spread out, make it more multi-purpose. It's not just a library with books anymore. That was the old days. But if we get some funding, we can start a lecture series with authors and we can expand the historical side. We want to be able to open people's minds. We have the building. That was the first step. Now, we have to go and expand, bring more and more people in. This event is important in that way."

Added Murphy, "Everyone loves to eat, so this was a perfect idea to make people aware of what we're doing. We're very excited about it. It's going to be a wonderful time. I hope everyone comes."

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner applauded the efforts of Greco, Murphy and the Library Board for organizing the event.

"They've all worked very hard to pull this event off," Turner said. "It's the next logical extension of the library. They want to initiate new programs and appeal to different age groups. All the efforts were put into rebuilding the library. The whole Library Board has shown the type of effort to want to make it work. It's a sense of community involvement that hasn't been done in Weehawken. It's going to be a great evening to raise money for a worthy cause."

Greco is hoping that at least 300 people attend the event. The Library Board hired a public relations firm to promote the event.

"The word is getting out," Greco said. "It's been a labor of love for everyone involved. I think of the Chart House, which had its problems with the fire and the community came to its aid. Now, this is the Chart House's way of saying thanks to the community. I am very excited. This was a long time in coming."

At the same time of the event, the Library Board will introduce another fund raising campaign, "The Tree of Knowledge," which will be on display at the library's entrance and will give patrons a way to memorialize deceased family members and friends with a donation.

"Everyone has been very kind in making this event take place," Greco said. "It's going to be a nice event at a nice setting, with good food. If it goes well, we hope we can make it an annual event. It's something that the community can look forward to every year."

Tickets for "A Taste of Weehawken," which is being held Tuesday, April 24, at the Food Court at Lincoln Harbor, are priced in two stages, either $25 or $50 per person. For further information about tickets, please call 201-866-8632, or send a check or money order to Taste of Weehawken, c/o CMS P.O. Box 90, West New York, NJ 07093.
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