For the 10th year, Russ’s Market put on the Wine and Food Experience benefit, raising its total gift to the Lincoln Community Playhouse to $385,000 over the past decade.
Over 500 guests browsed 93 booths in the main ballroom at Embassy Suites and enjoyed tasting an international selection of wines, plus a variety of cheeses, gourmet desserts, seafood, Nebraska beef and many unique items at the Feb. 23 event, which raised $35,000 for the Playhouse.
“We have 300 wines in the main ballroom and an additional 60 wines in the reserve room,” Rob Steider, wine and spirits director for Russ’s Market, said at the event. “Wines range from sweet to dry at every booth, and they are from Raymond, Nebraska, to wineries from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to sample wines.
“We have diverse guests here tonight,” Steider added. “I see old and young people, girls having a night out, date night for couples – all kinds of people.”
Pat Raybould, president of B&R Stores (parent company of Russ’s Market), said the 10th annual event included a few additions, like Russ’s Wine and Food Experience banners that guests could see as elevators ascended and descended from the dining area and lounge.
“The event is always a team effort – people working together and listening to ideas, like one by our employee Abbie Milligan, who suggested having live music that you see and hear in the reserve room area tonight (local band On the Rocks),” Raybould said.
Another new addition was Chocolate & Strawberry Stout beer tastings from local Empyrean Brewing Co. Several new products, which were scheduled to appear at Russ’s Markets throughout Lincoln the following week, were introduced at the event, Raybould said.
Lincoln Community Playhouse Executive Director Morrie Enders and others from the Playhouse attended the event in costumes that promoted their upcoming production of "Mamma Mia!" which will be at the Playhouse April 27 through May 13.
“The partnership of Russ’s Market with the Playhouse is ‘elementary,’” said Enders, dressed as Sherlock Holmes. “It’s just such a wonderful collaboration. To have us be the beneficiary of this event really helps us between peaks of season ticket drives.
“Russ’s has this event down to a science,” Enders added. “They really know how to put on a great show.”