Thirty-four New Canaan merchants and restaurants are gearing up for the second "Taste of the Town Stroll" on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Created as a fundraiser for the New Canaan Food Pantry, the stroll kicks off Restaurant Week, presented by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, with a townwide celebration. From 6 to 9 p.m., participating retailers, restaurants and eateries will open their doors to the public and offer free hors d'oeuvres, desserts and drinks.

The price of entry is a nonperishable food donation to the food pantry -- donated on the night of the stroll or purchased at Walter Stewart's Market. The list of requested items include toothpaste and toothbrushes, coffee, cereal, canned tuna, canned chili, canned hash, peanut butter and snack packs for kids. Beginning Aug. 20, Walter Stewart's will offers its customers the opportunity to purchase one of two donation packages comprised of those items most needed and priced at a 33 percent discount. Walter Stewart's will deliver the donation packages directly to the pantry. At the start of the stroll, maps will be distributed at drop-off sites set up on Elm Street, Main Street and Forest Street to those who bring a pantry donation or have purchased a donation package.

"The Taste of the Town Stroll was one of our biggest fundraisers last year," said Susan Boston, board member of the food pantry. "It is a perfect example of neighbor helping neighbor. Our need is even greater this year and we know with the level of support from so many constituents in New Canaan -- the stores, restaurants, Walter Stewarts, and restaurants -- this year will be even more successful."

The stroll culminates in front of the New Canaan Playhouse when more than two dozen prizes will be given away. Prizes include $50 gift certificates from each of the 13 participating restaurants and Walter Stewart's, $25 gift certificates from the participating eateries, and ones donated by Caren Forbes, Design Solutions, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren and Sara Campbell.

The grand prize, valued at $1,000, is a customized party for six at Aetheria Spa that includes exclusive access, lunch from one of New Canaan's best restaurants and champagne. The total prize pool is worth more than $2,700.

More Information

Fact box

One new restaurant and two out-of-downtown ones are partnering with Elm Street merchants to get close to the downtown action. Silvermine Market will be offering hors d'oeuvres at Pimlico, while the Roger Sherman Inn will be serving mojitos and appetizers at Ralph Lauren. South End, the new restaurant scheduled to open at 36 Pine St., will make appearances in Design Solutions. M Milestones will enliven the festivities with music, a contemporary jazz quartet will play in Milestones Plaza, opposite its store on Forest Street. Rosie will stage an art show reception featuring the most recent painting of Nicholas Grossmann, a local artist. The chamber will reopen the Pop-up Park at the intersection of South Street and Elm Street.

Participating in the stroll are Bistro Bonne Nuit, Boulevard 18 Bistro & Wine Bar, Caren Forbes, Cava Wine Bar & Restaurant, Design Solutions, Franco's Wine Merchants, elm, Gates Restaurant, J. Crew, New Canaan Diner, L'Armoire, Merle Norman Cosmetics & Boutique, M Milestones, New Balance of New Canaan, New Canaan Wine Merchants, Pimlico, Plum Tree Restaurant, Ralph Lauren, Red Grape Wine & Spirit, Red Mango, Roger Sherman Inn, Rosie, Sara Campbell, Sole Ristorante, South End, Suburban Couture, Swirl, Thali Regional Cuisine of India -- New Canaan, The Tuscan Osteria -- Mercato, TOGS, Village Critter Outfitter, Silvermine Market, and Walter Stewart's Market.

Restaurant Week is sponsored by Aetheria Spa, New Canaan Advertiser, Walter Stewart's Market and William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty.

For more information visit or contact Tucker Murphy, executive director, New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, at 203-966-2004 or