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Summer Dining Series Hopes to Bring New Friends Together

Anne Evans Anne Evans Summer Dining Series Hopes to Bring New Friends Together
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“Gathering around the table has always been my favorite thing about the foodie culture,” says Nathan Okuley. “It’s where great stories get told and connections get made. It’s a connecting point for strangers, and a chance to make memorable moments.”

Okuley recently launched An Intimate Pursuit of a Whimsical Summer of Dining, a series of outings that he hopes will help people connect over great food while showing support for local businesses.

Okuley sent out invites to about 35 people around Columbus- friends, family, and colleagues, and has also opened it up to the public to attend.

“As the name states the intimacy of the event is what makes it so fun, so I am excited to see who comes out to try it,” he says.

Always the one friends and family turn to for recommendations on where to eat, Okuley has committed himself to being as involved as possible in the Columbus community, trying many new spots as they open.

“This past May, I had a list of restaurants scribbled onto an old notepad filled with places that I wanted to get to this summer,” he says.


Restaurants part of An Intimate Pursuit of a Whimsical Summer of Dining include:

  • Ray Rays Hog Pit in Clintonville on Saturday July 12
  • Jobu Ramen in Grandview on Tuesday July 15
  • Rishi Sushi in Downtown on Thursday July 24
  • Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster on Friday August 1
  • Hot Chicken Takeover in Olde Towne East on Saturday August 9
  • 101 Beer Kitchen in Dublin on Tuesday August 12
  • Dos Hermanos Tacos in Italian Village on Saturday August 23

Okuley’s criteria used for choosing the restaurants: they had to be local and community-oriented, they needed to provide great summer dining experiences – having large patios, community tables, or the classic summer BBQ, and they needed to be in various neighborhoods.

“Hitting seven different neighborhoods was a high priority for me,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about the various neighborhoods in our city and have come to appreciate each for what they are. That’s new to a lot of people, and it’s always fun to get people experiencing new places in their city, whether they live in the heart of downtown or in a surrounding suburb. It’s not just eating; it’s connecting, learning, and supporting local.”

His love of summer and films translated into the flier he created for the event. Plus, no one responds to Facebook event invites anymore. He wanted to get something better to his friends.

“I’m an old soul at heart, so I love writing postcards, hand-written notes, and sending mail,” he says.

“I had the idea for the design one night around 2AM,” he says. “I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan. I saw Moonrise Kingdom at the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago and promised myself I’d create something as a tribute to his work; so this flier was a subtle (yet obvious) shoutout to one of my favorite film directors. I turned my kitchen table into a mini-photography studio, and spent a few hours staging the table to highlight some of my favorite personal summer experiences.”

RSVPs for the inaugural event are free, but you do need to come with a fun attitude, be ready to meet new people, have a great time, and enjoy some great food.

 To sign up to attend An Intimate Pursuit of a Whimsical Summer of Dining, click here.

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