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Beggars Can't Be Choosers Continues To Delight

By Jessica Maurer, posted Oct 28, 2015
(Photo courtesy of manna)
Downtown Wilmington restaurant manna celebrate its fifth anniversary in November, and one of its pioneering concepts is still going strong. Beggars Can’t Be Choosers has become a Sunday evening tradition for the fine-dining restaurant.

For those who aren’t familiar with this tradition, Beggars offers diners adventurous eating on a budget. The menu lists just six options: raw, veggie, fish, meat, mystery and sweet. For $8 apiece, diners select which small plates they want and then wait to see what arrives.

“The thought process behind the creation of Beggars was to show off the culinary props of our kitchen staff,” said proprietor William Mellon. “The chefs get an Iron Chef-type experience, and we utilize it to keep our kitchen staff thinking on their feet and keep their creative juices flowing.”

Mellon says that chef Jameson Chavez and his team have free license to experiment with new dishes throughout each Beggars service. They can use it as a way to practice new techniques or test new recipes. If someone orders a veggie plate at 5:30 p.m. and decides to have another an hour later, they might get the same dish or it might be something completely different. It’s all part of the gamble, Mellon said.

While the kitchen does take food allergies into consideration, diners are not able to make special requests; they have to be open to the element of surprise.

Beggars begins at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evenings and runs until 8 p.m. But the restaurant reserves the right to end it at any time despite the fact that there is sometimes a line out the door. Beggars are cautioned to keep in mind that, while manna’s kitchen staff is cranking out plates for Beggars, they are still serving the full menu to customers in the dining room. Beggars takes place in the bar area only, and reservations are accepted but there’s no wiggle room for those who arrive late.

Mellon says it’s important to note that the Beggars experience is entirely different from the fine-dining experience in the main dining area.

“Beggars is lively and can be a bit chaotic,” Mellon said. “It’s not structured the same as our normal fine-dining experience. It can be a lot of fun but it’s not necessarily great for first-time visitors or a special occasion.”

Mellon says he’s proud that Beggars has grown in popularity over the past five years.

“It’s one of the quirky ways we can show our innovation and how we set ourselves apart,” Mellon said.

For details on an upcoming anniversary celebration see www.mannaavenue.com.

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