Toledo joins other successful Restaurant Week citiesWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
With last year’s inaugural Restaurant Week Toledo, the Glass City joined dozens of other large and mid-sized cities nationwide in hosting successful Restaurant Week events.
Organized as a fundraiser by local nonprofit Leadership Toledo, the second Restaurant Week Toledo will be Jan. 29-Feb. 4. The event is also meant to showcase the variety of local culinary options and promote dining locally.
“We are really pleased with the enthusiastic support from the community and the restaurants,” said Becca Gorman, co-chair of Restaurant Week Toledo. “I think people really know it’s going to be an exciting thing for Toledo and they want to be a part of it.”
Seventeen area restaurants are participating so far this year — Bar 145, The Blarney Irish Pub, Bobby V’s American Grill, Burger Bar 419, Dégagé Jazz Café, Fifi’s Reprise Restaurant and Lounge, The Hungry I, ICE Restaurant and Bar, LaScola Italian Grill, Manhattan’s, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Rockwell’s, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar and Grill, Tea Tree Asian Bistro and Ventura’s.
Each restaurant creates a special Restaurant Week menu with a price point of $10, $20 or $30 (drinks, taxes and gratuities not included) and donates a portion of the proceeds to Leadership Toledo to benefit its youth programs.
Kyle Dumkow, dining room manager at Bobby V’s American Grill in Holland, said he was familiar with the Restaurant Week concept from when he worked at The Real Seafood Company in Ann Arbor.
“We knew it happened last year (in Toledo). We were familiar with Restaurant Week from Ann Arbor, where it was very successful. So we were watching for it here because it was very worthwhile for that company in Ann Arbor,” Dumkow said. “We agree with the concept. We have seen it work in other cities. Things that work elsewhere do generally work in Toledo.”
Dumkow said Bobby V’s, which opened in June, chose to participate as an opportunity for exposure as well as a desire to offer a more geographically convenient dining option for Holland area residents.
Gorman said organizers researched Restaurant Weeks in many cities before launching Restaurant Week Toledo.
“We wanted to see what ideas were working for other cities and take the best ideas that we could to integrate into our event,” Gorman said. “Our team researched Ann Arbor, Detroit, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Traverse City, Baltimore, Madison, Philadelphia, Raleigh, St. Louis, Boston and Washington, D.C. We spoke with the organizers at about half of these cities.”
Organizers also traveled to Akron, Detroit and Ann Arbor to experience Restaurant Weeks in person.
The events in Detroit and Ann Arbor are both well-established and well-received, Gorman said, while Akron is similar to Toledo in terms of population and is also new to Restaurant Week.
“We gathered menus and samples of their promotional materials and went to various restaurants and even talked to owners to get their perspective on Restaurant Week and why they participate and how they feel it helps their businesses,” Gorman said. “We came home energized to help our area restaurant owners to feel that same success with our Restaurant Week. These events are a lot of fun, and they are really good for business.”
After feedback from last year’s inaugural event, organizers made some adjustments for this year, Gorman said.
“Many people told us that they wanted more restaurants to offer lunch options, and we now have more than half of our restaurants doing so,” Gorman said. “We have been asked from attendees to have restaurants in more parts of town and we are working hard to make that happen.”
Feedback also indicated area residents were interested in more restaurants at lower price points, so they would be able to afford visiting multiple restaurants during the promotion.
Fifi Berry, owner of Fifi’s Reprise Restaurant and Lounge in Toledo, said she participated in Restaurant Week Toledo last year and will participate again this year because supporting Leadership Toledo and the area’s youth is important to her. The event is also good for business, Berry said.
“It brought people to our restaurant who had not been there before, which is nice, and they had a wonderful dining experience,” Berry said. “I would encourage more of the local restaurants to get involved. I think they will be surprised. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of Restaurant Week Toledo.
For more information, visit www.restaurantweektoledo.com.
Tags: Bar 145, Bobby V’s American Grill, Burger Bar 419, Dégagé Jazz Café, Fifi’s Reprise Restaurant and Lounge, ICE Restaurant and Bar, LaScola Italian Grill, Leadership Toledo, Manhattan’s, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Restaurant Week Toledo, Rockwell’s, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar and Grill, Tea Tree Asian Bistro, The Blarney Irish Pub, The Hungry I, Ventura’s