Talk about wide-ranging food options.

You can celebrate the area’s Bhutanese community at the Shanti Hot Pepper Fest on Saturday. On Friday and Saturday, you can enjoy more than a wee bit of food, drink and Irish music at the Taste of Ireland festival at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.

We also have some other morsels, including an update about a long-planned new eatery in downtown Cuyahoga Falls — Leo’s Italian Social Club — that is aiming to open by the end of this month.

First up, the Taste of Ireland festival, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday. The Juke Hounds play at 7 p.m. and Desire, a U2 tribute band, will perform at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, performances by Irish bands will begin at 12:15 p.m.

Admission is free. Irish food and fair food will be available for purchase, along with Jameson tastings that will be offered both days.

Inflatables, face painting and children's games will be available for a fee.

Free children's activities will be presented by the Akron Children's Museum.

The festival is organized by volunteers from both Hibernian units in Akron in conjunction with the city's Lock 3.

For an entertainment schedule and other information, go to http://irishinakron.com.

 

Hot pepper fest

 

This is the second year for the Shanti Hot Pepper Fest, which this year will be at the Exchange House, a community gathering spot at 760 Elma St. in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.

This event is a fundraiser for the Shanti Community Farms group that works with local Bhutanese immigrants on community garden projects.

The fundraiser — an informal affair featuring Nepali eats, as well as a pepper-eating contest and more — was cooked up by Shanti Community Farms’ Tom Crain and Bhakta Rizal, both of Akron.

Rizal is originally from Bhutan and emigrated in the late 1990s from Nepal, where he was living in a refugee camp.

What’s with the peppers? Chili peppers are used more as a vegetable than a spice in Bhutan. A curry made with chili peppers and cheese is a national dish.

A full pass to the festival and games (such as a bamboo-splitting activity) runs $50.

Tickets for food only are $35, and tickets for competitions/games only are $25.

Food will include Nepali dishes, smoothies and shaved ice treats.

For tickets and information on sponsorships, go to https://bit.ly/32Jiqul.

 

Leo's Italian Social

 

The long-planned Leo’s Italian Social in downtown Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to soon open, perhaps even this month.

That’s the word from Jen Leonard, marketing and events manager for Chef Art Pour, the restaurant group headquartered in Chagrin Falls.

Leo’s Italian Social is a new concept for Chef Art Pour, which owns nine Burntwood Taverns in Northeast Ohio.

Leo’s at 2251 Front St. will feature some items available at other Chef Art Pour eateries, including M Italian in Chagrin Falls and Rose Italian Kitchen in Solon.

A 3-to-6 p.m. happy hour seven days a week, featuring half-price appetizers, is planned

Customers will be able to play bocce outdoors.

In 2017, Chef Art Pour originally thought it would open a second Rose Italian Kitchen at the Falls site. Then last year, the company said it had changed plans and would open its first Leo’s in the space. At that time, the company said the new eatery would open in May 2018.

Leonard said Monday she doesn’t have a “firm date” for the opening, and Chef Art Pour is “pushing [for an opening] this month.”

Workers have been hired and training is to begin later this week.

Leo’s, across from Ohio Brewing Co, is among new businesses on the stretch of Front Street that previously was a pedestrian mall. It was opened to vehicular traffic last year as part of a plan to redevelop the area, which has been designated a historic district.

 

Hardee's in Akron

 

Hardee's, the 59-year-old hamburger chain headquartered just outside Nashville, will open a second Akron location Aug. 24. (Note: This is a postponed opening date provided to the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com after its initial online and print publication.)

The new Hardee’s is at 1393 S. Arlington St. in East Akron, and is owned and operated by franchisee Midwest First Star Inc. of Centerville.

The other Akron Hardee’s is at 2695 Gilchrist Road, and also is owned by Midwest First Star.

Hardee’s features black Angus beef Thickburgers, biscuits that are are kneaded, rolled and baked on site, as well as hand-breaded chicken tenders.

Midwest First Star operates some 30 restaurants in Ohio and Indiana.

 

Wine happenings

 

• Wise Guys Lounge and Grill will host a Cantina Goretti wine tasting dinner featuring Sara Goretti at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

There will be eight wines with food pairings by chef Dino Reed.

Cost is $75. Call 330-922-3006 to reserve.

• The Akron Zoo’s third annual wine tasting, Wild for Wine, will run 6-9 p.m. Saturday.

This event has limited capacity and can sell out.

Guests will receive a souvenir Akron Zoo wine glass, nine wine tastings and appetizers (while supplies last).

Area wineries that will be on hand include the Winery at Wolf Creek in Copley and Bent Ladder Cider and Wine, which is housed at Rittman Orchards. The Cookery Food Truck also will be on hand.

Tickets are $35 for Akron Zoo members and $40 for nonmembers. Designated driver tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Tickets are available at akronzoo.org/wild-for-wine or the Akron Zoo box office. This event is for those ages 21 or older. Infants and children will not be admitted.

 

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.