In a typical year, hundreds of Valley food lovers gather every fall for a night of food, drink and live entertainment under elegant white tents at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve at the National Bank of Arizona's corporate center. Billed as an “upscale block party,” Taste of the Biltmore usually brings together dozens of the Valley's top restaurants for a soiree hosted by National Bank of Arizona, with the evening’s proceeds benefiting a local charity.

 

But, of course, 2020 wasn’t a typical year.

“This would have been our 14th year hosting the event. But we still wanted to support the community.”

– Kimberly Robb, Assistant Vice President Marketing Supervisor, National Bank of Arizona

 

 

That’s why Kimberly Robb, assistant vice president and marketing supervisor for National Bank of Arizona, says the company decided to postpone the event. But rather than forgoing the opportunity to support a local nonprofit organization, organizers came up with a way to do just that—and to bring some much-needed business to local restaurants at the same time.

 

“This would have been our 14th year hosting the event,” Robb says. “And even though it was postponed, we knew we had a fantastic opportunity to do something that could carry on our mission of rallying the community around a good cause while supporting local restaurants and charities."

 

 

Since 2007, Taste of the Biltmore has become a don’t-miss annual event for local chefs, foodies and anyone interested in supporting a good cause. Past restaurant participants have included the Wrigley Mansion, Otro Cafe, Bluewater Grill, and San Tan Brewing Company.

 

What started as a customer appreciation event evolved into an incredible opportunity for the bank to rally behind an Arizona nonprofit. Over more than a decade, local restaurants and attendees have helped raise $136,895 for charities, including Act One Arizona, Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, and United Phoenix Firefighters Charities.

 

Last year, the event’s beneficiary was Ryan House, a one-of-a-kind Arizona organization that supports children and their families as they navigate life-limiting or end-of-life journeys. All services are provided to families at no cost. Taste of the Biltmore raised some $24,000 for the organization in 2019.

 

Ryan House executive director Tracy Leonard-Warner says working with National Bank of Arizona has been a “wonderful partnership.”

 

“It’s so different dealing with a local bank. The experience has just been so different,” she says. “You know that they care about the community that they’re in, and what they do for nonprofits is wonderful.”

 

The proceeds from last year’s Taste of the Biltmore also helped the organization survive the financial uncertainty of 2020. Fundraising was down this year, Leonard-Warner says, and is critical for the organization since Ryan House relies 100 percent on philanthropy from the community.

 

“It helped give us [what] we needed to really help us through what’s happened since,” Leonard-Warner says. “It was great.”

 

Instead of the familiar tasting event, this year the bank purchased meals from three locally-owned restaurants around the state. The meals were then donated to charitable organizations within the community during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

 

 

"We thought it was best to coordinate our efforts around the Thanksgiving holiday because that’s what it’s about: Coming together to share a meal with each other," Robb says. "Doing this allows us to have an impact on both sides--we’re supporting local restaurants who have had a rough go of things this year, and we’re supporting great local charities that have a tremendous impact in our communities."

 

Someburros, a Phoenix-based and family-owned chain of Mexican restaurants, is one of the restaurant partners for this year’s event. Owner Tim Vasquez says he appreciates those who are finding new ways to support their communities during these unprecedented times.

 

“This has been a hard year without a doubt,” he says. “But it’s incredible to see how people still find ways to show up for each other, even while six feet apart. We couldn’t be more excited to be part of National Bank of Arizona’s endeavor to donate meals to those who need it most.”

 

Robb says rallying behind local businesses and charity organizations aligns with National Bank of Arizona’s larger mission. In addition to Taste of the Biltmore, the bank encourages employees to get involved with local charities and to make it as easy as possible to give back.

 

 

Story: Lauren Saria

Photos: Mark Lipczynski