Northwestern students feast on free food at Big Bite Nite

Josh Kopel

Thirty-six downtown Evanston restaurants made the food-based dreams of Northwestern students come true Sunday, offering both free food and discount coupons as part of Big Bite Nite.

The free food bonanza, an annual Associated Student Government event, gives NU students a fun opportunity to sample what food that downtown Evanston has to offer.

“This is a great example of how the Northwestern and greater Evanston communities can cooperate together to overcome their historic differences,” said ASG External Relations Vice President Ethan Merel, who coordinated the event.

The night was organized in cooperation with Downtown Evanston – previously known as EvMark – a company that provides management and marketing services to the downtown Evanston area.

Laura Folkl, marketing and communications manager for the Downtown Evanston group, called the event “a way for students to try new cuisine in their new town.”

Both Folkl and Merel stressed the importance of maintaining relations between students and the Evanston community, highlighting how students make up a large portion of Evanston’s yearly revenue.

It’s also an important business opportunity for the restaurants, which depend on student business to survive in an area with one of the highest amount of restaurants per square foot in the country.

Students who attended the event admitted that the event could shape their food choices for the rest of the year.

“Once students try and like a restaurant’s food they are likely to come back,” said Communication senior Kana Yoo, glancing with a smile at her Whole Foods bag, overflowing with free samples. “(The event) interests students in what is out there.

Ramakant Kharel, owner of Mt. Everest Restaurant, highlighted the importance of attracting students.

“The students are a very essential part of our community and I think it’s important to welcome them as they are the backbone of our business,” said Kharel, handing out white paper cups of vegetable biryani to eager students.

Other Evanston business owners shared Kharel’s viewpoint and said that they were using Big Bite Nite to raise student awareness of their products and services.

“It gets our product out there,” said Codi Livingston, assistant manager at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. “It makes students come back for more.”

After signing in at the event, which lasted from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., students were entered in a raffle to win 18 pairs of $25 gift cards, each one for a different participating restaurant. The students were also given a booklet of coupons.

“I think that the coupon book they passed out was a good idea because it offers advertising and special deals to Northwestern students,” McCormick sophomore David Zhou said.

Among the items offered as part of the event were an array of delicious treats ranging from a slice of pizza at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria to homemade sea salt chips at The Celtic Knot. Sashimi Sashimi offered California rolls and kampyo while Argo Tea showcased its pumpkin chai tea – the top-rated pumpkin drink in Chicago, manager Chris Gray said.

“I think (Big Bite Nite) is a great way to get to know downtown Evanston and to feel the appreciation for the Northwestern community,” Weinberg junior Ben Kim said.

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