Eric Matthews always has had a soft spot for dogs. So when a representative of Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue asked him last year to support a fundraiser for the group, Matthews – an owner of Brickyard Pub & BBQ, Brio Pizzeria and Center Cut steakhouse in Lewiston – said yes.
Over the next year, Matthews adopted two rescued dogs through the group. Charmer is a Labrador retriever mix from Ohio. Bear is an Australian shepherd mix from Alabama. Both were brought to the Lewiston group from shelters that would have euthanized them.
Matthews used to exclusively have Bernese mountain dogs, which are purebred. “Expensive dogs, big dogs,” he said. “I still have one now.”
But a couple of years ago, Matthews decided he was done with purebreds. “There’s too many dogs out there to rescue,” he said. “I said, ‘If I get another dog, it’s going to be a rescue dog.’ ”
When Heart of Niagara asked Matthews for his help again this year, he wasn’t going to say no. Pulled pork sandwiches and Brunswick stew from Brickyard (432 Center St., Lewiston) and pizza from Brio (440 Center St., Lewiston) will join the tastings offered by 30 restaurants, bakeries, caterers and others at the event from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls (101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls).
Also taking part are Bailey O’Riley’s Village Pub, Baked Cupcakery, Big Cookie Cakes, Carmine’s Catering, Como Restaurant, Conference & Event Center Catering, D&M Confections, De La Casa Mexican Restaurant, Donna Eick’s, Favorite’s Pizza, Formal BBQ and Event Catering, Gino’s Italian Bakery, Grandpaws Café for Good, The Griffon Gastropub, Honey’s Pizza, Johnnie Ryan Company, Kohinoor Fine Indian Cuisine, La Galera Mexican Restaurant, Legends Bar & Grill, Mangia Café and Bakery, Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, One Eyed Jack’s, Orange Cat Coffee Company, Paula’s Donuts, Savor Restaurant at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, Sweet Melody’s, The Spicey Pickle Mexican Restaurant, The Village Bake Shoppe, Tim Hortons and Water Street Landing.
The Brickyard’s pulled pork is pork shoulder that’s been smoked for 10 to 12 hours with apple and cherry wood. The meat is shredded and mixed with Brickyard barbecue sauce, Matthews said. The stew includes pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey and chicken, celery, carrots, onions, red potatoes and corn.
“We’ll be there supporting the organization,” Matthews said about the event. “Hopefully we’ll get some dogs rescued.”
Tickets are $20, through the group’s website at www.heartsofniagara.org. Call 345-7129.