- Associated Press - Saturday, May 25, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln restaurateur is planning what he describes as a farmers market of restaurants, bakeries and caterers.

Lawrence de Villiers told the Lincoln Journal Star that the Sheridan Festival of Food he’s organizing already has signed up 10 vendors.

“It would be designed like a farmers market with restaurants and caterers lining up, people coming in with their families,” de Villiers said. The native of France offered traditional French cuisine when he and his wife opened The Normandy restaurant in 2013. They sold it in 2017.

Most recently he created the concept and menu for The Pasta Place, a restaurant owned by Lincoln school board member Don Mayhew that opened in March.

Mayhew said he loves the idea of a food festival, which would help him meet other vendors and help people learn about his restaurant.

“There are some people who may think of (other small vendors) as competition, but they’re really not,” Mayhew said. “Small, independent owners should be strong, fast allies. One of the things I like is it creates a sense of place with local talent.”

De Villiers wants to hold a few weekend festivals this summer, with the first near the end of July. He wants to see how his idea works before launching it for a full season. He’ll offer the space free this summer, but ultimately businesses would rent space like businesses do at farmers markets.

The festivals would be a way to help businesses be less reliant on - or hurt by - Nebraska football traffic, de Villiers said.

“My job is to help local restaurants be successful and take over the chain (restaurants),” he said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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