Paula Beaudoin of Parker House Grille/Steve the Cook. Photo by Debbie Hovanasian

DRACUT — Dining out in Dracut takes on a whole new meaning on Monday, March 5 at Lenzi’s Millhouse. From 6:30 p.m until 8:30 p.m., dozens of local restaurants and food service businesses will dish out samples of their favorite appetizers, entrees or desserts.

It’s all part of Dining in Dracut, an annual event sponsored by Community Outreach – Circle of Friends, Inc. Advance tickets are now on sale for $15. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $18. Proceeds benefit local charities, including scholarships, food baskets, safety programs, teddy bears for children, Catie’s Closet, the Wish Project and more.

Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation or toiletries for the Dracut Food Pantry. A special raffle will be held for all contributors.

Among the returning veterans donating dishes this year will be Parker House Grille/Steve the Cook Catering, under the direction of owner Paula Beaudoin. They’ve been dishing out delectable bites since 2005, taking home several awards for appetizer and entree. Beaudoin, who will showcase pulled pork sliders, recently shared her thoughts on Dining in Dracut from a restaurant perspective.

Q: What drew you to participate in Dining in Dracut?

A: Two things. First, this is a local charity that provides scholarships for some of the kids that work for me, food baskets to local people in need, tear bears to children. This is all for people we know. Second, this is our house, so to speak. The people who come to Dining in Dracut from Dracut, Tyngsboro, Lowell, they are my customers. This gives me a chance to showcase some of our foods to our customers and potential customers.

Q: It’s fun for attendees. Is it also fun from a restaurant point of view?

A: Yes, I do enjoy myself very much. There’s a lot of work involved, especially the two to three hours of preparation before. It’s high pressure. Is it worth it? Yes. Do I have fun? Yes. We meet a lot of people, including from the other restaurants – our friendly competitors. It’s good to shake hands with the other restaurants as well as talk with the people.

Q: How has the event changed over the years?

A: I’ve found that it has gotten bigger. They do such a great job and are very organized. They’re also now giving awards for presentation, so people are really dressing up their booths with nice cloths, racks and serving pieces. You’ll see more of the character or flavor of the restaurant now, more than before.

Q: It must be gratifying to be chosen as the winner several times?

A: It is very gratifying to win. It lets us know that we are doing something right. We find out that night before we leave. Yahoo! It’s rewarding and it’s gratifying and makes me proud of our staff, our recipes, and the execution — which is crucial.

Q: What’s the best reason for someone to attend?

A: It’s probably the best $15 they’ll ever spend. They get to try so many different dishes from the local area. These are places they can visit after because they are close by. Then they have the comfort of knowing they’ll like whatever they order because they’ve already sampled it. Everyone gets stuffed to the gills, but they can feel good about themselves because they are helping a local charity. So much is donated, so very little raised goes to the event itself – it goes right back to the charity. It’s also a very community-oriented event where you’ll see people you know and interact with every day. Politicians, school teachers, bus drivers, friends. This represents very well the name “circle of friends.”

For advance tickets, email or purchase at Parker House Grille, Abdinoor’s Carpet Craft, Alexander’s Pharmacy, Dracut Do It Best Hardware and Kenwood Hardware and Paint; go to

Lenzi’s Millhouse, 810 Merrimack Ave., Dracut.