Restaurant Week showcases Grand Rapids' finest cuisine at affordable price
10-day event receives 'fantastic feedback,' benefits student scholarship for culinary program at GRCC
After 10 days of three-course specials, more college students and other area residents can say they have sampled some of the finest cuisine Grand Rapids has to offer, which was exactly the point of Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week 2010 ran from Nov. 4-11 and involved more than 50 local restaurants. The past week marked Grand Rapids’ first attempt at such an event, and project manager Sally Zarafonetis said it was a success.
“We’ve gotten fantastic feedback,” Zarafonetis said. “All the restaurants are delighted with it.”
Participating restaurants selected three-course meals for the set price of $20.10. The purpose was to encourage people to eat out, try different restaurants they might not ordinarily visit and showcase the expertise of local chefs.
“A lot of people are going out, some multiple times each week,” Zarafonetis said. “It produced a lot of business for (the restaurants).”
The concept of Restaurant Week began in New York City and has spread to other major cities across the nation with each location putting a unique spin on the event. Grand Rapids restaurants donate a dollar from every special meal sold to a scholarship for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College.
Restaurant Week 2010 was underwritten by Experience Grand Rapids and the Downtown Development Authority. Other local organizations also helped sponsor different aspects of the event.
Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids, originally proposed implementing the idea in Grand Rapids, and he served as a catalyst for starting the event, Zarafonetis said.
Planning for Restaurant Week began last year, and all area restaurants received an open invitation to participate with 57 agreeing to join. Official numbers are not yet collected, but Zarafonetis said some restaurants have reported reaching capacity on some nights.
“I presume this will be an annual event with the amount of positive feedback we’ve received,” she said, adding nothing is certain yet.
The Landing, located riverside in the Radisson Hotel, participated in Restaurant Week and reported a positive experience.
“We’ve had a tremendous response,” said Clark Frank, the executive chef at the Landing. “It brought in quite a few guests that probably normally wouldn’t have visited us.”
Frank said he has seen more of the college-aged crowd dining out.
“It creates a good dating or social atmosphere where we can work with people who maybe are on a budget,” Frank said.
He estimated the Landing would be contributing about $500 to the scholarship fund by the end of the 10-day period.
The Landing and other participating restaurants were listed on the event’s website, www.restaurantweekgr.com. The site included a brief description of the menu items available with the three-course special as well as information about each restaurant.
The restaurants involved ranged from upscale dining to bars, pizza parlors to ethnic eateries, and everything in between.