As you may have noticed in the pages of today's newspaper, a new - but limited - event will be coming to Weirton in the coming weeks.
The Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau will be holding a restaurant tour of Weirton on Feb. 18, showcasing a handful of the city's eateries and promoting some of our local businesses.
As part of the Weirton tour, the 40 participants will sample appetizers at Fujiyama, have soup or salad at Mario's, pasta at Undo's and dessert at Tesla's Lounge in the Serbian-American Cultural Center.
The whole point is to provide a full meal while visiting a few restaurants and, hopefully, encouraging them to learn more about the culinary based businesses in the area.
A similar event was held in Wellsburg last year, and is said to have been a big success. People have even suggested doing it multiple times a year.
I occasionally hear comments about types of businesses people would like to see come to our community, and, more often than not, several involve restaurants.
While there are probably a few opportunities for a couple national franchises or maybe some new ethnic offerings, we have several great restaurants in the Weirton area. Most are locally owned and operated, and all it takes is a little bit of exploring to find and try them.
I have a feeling this event will sell out quick, and encourage those interested to get your tickets soon.
Who knows? Perhaps this tour will lead to bigger events, or even multiple tours a year focusing on different restaurants each time.
A few years back, the Taste of the Valley event was started with similar intentions. The whole point was to get people to try out a little bit from some of our local restaurants.
I've grown to enjoy sampling new types of food in recent years and we have many restaurants with a variety of settings in our area.
Some are bigger and more commercial, others are smaller, locally owned and not as flashy, while a few have even become points of pride in the Ohio Valley.
These restaurants are part of our business community, and, like all of them, need support from our residents in order to operate.
These local restaurant tours, while sticking with only a few at a time, provide a sample of what we have. I hope it encourages others to go out, even if it's only a few times now and again, to try something new.
I know there are many places in our region I've never even heard of, let alone visited.
I'm sure it's the same for many residents. We all have our favorite places to eat, shop, visit, etc. At some point, though, even those were new to us. Something about them got our attention and convinced us to try them out, and we've been going back ever since.
It might be that special sandwich, a particular pizza topping, or maybe just their pasta sauce.
A restaurant tour is something that easily could catch on in Weirton, or just about any other community in our area.
Each city or town has that special location they want to show off. It might be a well-known restaurant on the main drive, or a little secret tucked away and known primarily to a particular neighborhood.
It's something I see growing and attracting not just residents of Weirton, but those from other communities or even neighboring states as people look to try something different.
I can even picture multiple tours taking place at the same time, with each tour featuring different restaurants or perhaps focusing on a particular type of food.
I wish the folks at the CVB well on this new endeavor. I'm sure it will be a huge success.
So get out there and check it out.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)