Main Street Winter Haven Serves Wine, Chocolate, And Cheese Downtown For Sixth Year
by James Coulter
Thanksgiving is around the corner. The holidays are soon upon us. Nevertheless, it’s never too early to start indulging on holiday chocolates. What goes better with chocolate than wine and cheese?
Last Thursday, the holiday spirit arrived early with plenty of chocolate, cheese, and wine in Downtown Winter Haven during the sixth annual Wine, Chocolate, and Cheese event.
Hosted by Main Street Winter Haven, the annual fall event allowed attendees to wander around the downtown area and visit 42 different restaurants and businesses to sample wine, chocolates, and cheeses.
Some of the downtown businesses have been participating ever since the event first started six years ago. Others were new businesses that opened this year and used the event as an opportunity to draw in potential customers.
One such business, Treasured Olive, opened the exact same day as the event. The shop, which sells various olive oils and vinegar, participated as a way to draw in more potential customers during its grand opening that day, explained owner Nathanial Briggs.
Briggs had moved down from Kansas, where his mother owned a similar store that he helped manage for six years. Upon moving down to Florida, he wanted to open a similar store to offer the local community specialty oils and vinegar, many of which are imported from all over the world.
“Good quality olive oil is very important,” he said. “This turnout is amazing, especially for my first–day opening. It is very good. It is far beyond my expectations. I will be hopeful. I hope it is a good fit for Downtown Winter Haven. It is something that is needed for the public.”
Another store, Top Buttons, also opened recently this year, having first opened in September. The boutique is a non-profit that works with 25 different agencies, including Guardian Ad Litem and Girls Inc.
All of the proceeds from the clothing and other merchandise they sell at the store go towards the other non-profit organizations they partner with, explained owner Patty Butler.
As they are a new shop within the downtown area, they decided to participate in this year’s annual event to help bring in potential customers to their store. Attendees come for the wine and cheese, and hopefully will return to give back to the local community through their purchases, Butler said.
“I think it as has been great, it is for awareness,” she said. “Even if they don’t shop, at least they come back, we are just glad to be included, and we are happy to be part of Winter Haven.”
Many of the other businesses participating that evening offered specials, while many of the participating eateries were serving dinner specials. All of this, combined with the event, allowed attendees to come for the wine and stay for the good food and deals.
Recently, Downtown Winter Haven was honored as the People’s Choice Winner for the 2019 Great Places in Florida as presented by the American Planning Association Florida Chapter. With the downtown area being held in such high regard statewide, the event offered an opportunity for more people to better appreciate it, explained Anita Strang, President of Main Street Winter Haven.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “This has been a great year. The weather is lovely, which makes people feel a little more festive.”