East County Foodie Fest intended to reinvigorate restaurants

El Cajon is holding its first ever "Foodie Fest" in October. Ticket prices are $10 for a 4-hour taste of East County eats.
El Cajon is holding its first ever “Foodie Fest” in October with ticket prices set at $10 for the four-hour taste of East County eats.
(Karen Pearlman / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fall event a collaboration between city, business groups


The first El Cajon Foodie Fest is coming in October, offering bites of food from dozens of restaurants and caterers.

The city of El Cajon is collaborating with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, the El Cajon Downtown Business Partnership and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center to present the Foodie Fest, which will also include crafts, booths and entertainment.

Foodie Fest is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at Prescott Promenade — and possibly spilling over across Main Street to the Civic Center near The Magnolia and City Hall. The city, which is sponsoring the event, is setting the ticket price at $8 pre-fest, and $10 on the day of the event.

People will pay an entry fee and then have access to samples of all the proprietors’ goodies during the four-hour time frame.

Restaurants and caterers from El Cajon are still being confirmed at this point, according to Rick Wilson, president and CEO of the East County Chamber, as is the entertainment, which one city official said will likely include a popular local band.

“The chamber is very excited about the partnership with city of El Cajon to help businesses come out of the pandemic,” Wilson said. “It’s an honor to help these businesses, and any collaboration and partnership with the city is awesome.”

El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell said the city is using about $200,000 in federal American Rescue Plan monies to subsidize the event as a way to help dining establishments and catering companies get back on their feet.

Mitchell said those businesses were among some of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are still feeling the financial pinch of lost sales.

“We are paying for them to have staff and food, so there will not be a cost to them,” Mitchell said. “Our intent is not to make money from this.”

City Councilman Steve Goble, who came up with the idea of Foodie Fest earlier this year, said that the city wants the business community to bounce back and do well, and this is one way to back it up.

Goble said this event will allow dine-in restaurants and catering companies that were forced to close during the pandemic to “get the visibility back in front of people of the community, the visibility to say, ‘We’re open!’ or ‘We’re new!’ or ‘We’re doing something different, check us out!’”