Welcome to Restaurant Week Toledo 2014: Special deals Feb. 24 to March 2 to benefit Leadership ToledoWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
A week featuring special menus developed by local restaurants with a portion of proceeds benefiting a local nonprofit is a recipe that gets local foodies and philanthropists alike looking forward to Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT) each year.
The fourth annual event, featuring 30 locally owned restaurants, is set for Feb. 24 through March 2. A portion of proceeds will benefit Youth Leadership Toledo and Students in Action, two youth programs of Leadership Toledo.
“In just three years we have built this into a to-do food event in Toledo,” said Cory Dippold, associate executive director of Leadership Toledo. “Whether you are a casual diner or a foodie, Restaurant Week Toledo allows the community to try new restaurants at affordable prices or possibly try a new menu item at a favorite dining spot.”
The event, presented by Medical Mutual, offers “a culinary taste of Toledo,” said RWT co-chairs Becca Gorman and Margot Estes. Last year’s event drew in more than 10,000 diners.
“We try to change the list every year a little to stay fresh and the restaurants really work to have exciting options on their menus,” Estes said.
Participating restaurants are 5th Street Pub, Avenue Bistro, The Beirut, Black Kite Coffee, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), The Café at The Oliver House, Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Element 112, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Korea Na, La Scola Italian Grill, Loma Linda, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Mancy’s Steaks, Packo’s at the Park, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Shorty’s True American Roadhouse, social., The Original Tony Packo’s, TREO, Ventura’s and Zinful Tasting & Taproom.
Each of the restaurants, which include venues in Downtown, East Toledo, Maumee, Perrysburg, Swanton, Sylvania and Waterville, will feature a special menu priced at $10, $20 or $30. (Drinks, taxes and gratuities are not included unless specified.) Each venue will also include at least one dish designated a healthy option.
“Everyone wins — the restaurant owners for the increased traffic and marketing exposure, the customers who have a fun week of dining and trying new spots while getting a good value, and Leadership Toledo, which receives proceeds from the restaurants,” Gorman said.
Leadership Toledo’s youth programs help teens “realize what their leadership roles and responsibilities are and how to maximize their impact in their workplaces, schools and community,” Dippold said.
Youth Leadership Toledo is a nine-month program that works with select high school sophomores to develop leadership skills and community service. This year’s class is comprised of 51 students from 30 regional high schools.
Students in Action, a component of the national Jefferson Awards organization, recognizes area students doing community volunteer work. Since starting in four local schools as a pilot program in 2008, the program has expanded into more than 30 schools, including St. Ursula Academy, which was named one of the top four programs in the country last year, Dippold said. Participating students logged more than 213,000 service hours last school year.
“Since our youth programs do not charge tuition, we must fundraise to cover costs and Restaurant Week Toledo is an innovative way to help support our mission while also supporting local restaurants,” he said.
Kristin Kiser, owner of Black Kite Coffee and a graduate of Leadership Toledo, said she is excited to participate in RWT for the first time.
“I believe in Leadership Toledo in every way,” Kiser said. “I’ve been a part of the adult class and I’m continuously moved by the success of Youth Leadership Toledo. I can’t express enough how important it is for people to know about it, so to help spread the word through Restaurant Week Toledo is great.”
The Original Tony Packo’s and Packo’s at the Park are also participating in RWT for the first time.
“This is a real nice opportunity for local restaurants to get a little bit of recognition,” said Tony Packo Jr., chief operating officer for the family-operated business. “The independents don’t have that same muscle power [as chain restaurants] to put their ads on TV every night. They have to work hard to get their reputation. The ones listed here are good, hard-working people and they deserve this.”
Burger Bar 419 is taking part for the third year, this time at two locations since its Monroe Street location opened in May.
“Restaurant Week Toledo really took off within the past two years,” said co-owner Tony House. “I think the public really enjoys the idea and being able to get out and hit all these restaurants they normally wouldn’t.”
House said his favorite part is the anticipation leading up to the event.
“You hear about it for months: It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s going to be here soon,” House said. “It’s definitely fun for the staff and gets them amped up. The volume we see goes up dramatically.”
Zinful Tasting & Taproom is returning to RWT for the second year.
“Restaurant Week is a remarkable program to be part of. They are professionals through and through,” said Zinful owner Joyce Franzblau. “Not only are they dedicated and focused on leadership programs for Toledo but equally committed to supporting local restaurants. The exposure and new business they inspire is beyond comparison.”
RWT definitely helps lure people out of the house during a time of year when business tends to be slow, said Sandy Spang, owner of Plate 21, also in its third year of RWT.
“It’s just a great boon to the local economy at the end of February when most people are home and hunkered down,” Spang said.
TREO General Manager Nate Schank agreed.
“We participated last year and thought it was a really cool event,” Schank said. “I like the fact that they focus on local restaurants. It’s a really cool way to keep people motivated about spending locally.”
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of Restaurant Week Toledo. Toledo Free Press Managing Editor Sarah Ottney is a member of the Leadership Toledo class of 2014.
For more information and full menus, visit restaurantweektoledo.com.
Tags: 5th Street Pub, associate executive director of Leadership Toledo, Avenue Bistro, Black Kite Coffee, Burger Bar 419 (Heatherdowns Boulevard and Monroe Street locations), Caper’s Restaurant & Bar, Cory Dippold, Cousino’s Steakhouse, Downtown, East Toledo, Element 112, Gradkowski’s, ICE Restaurant & Bar, Korea Na, La Scola Italian Grill, Loma Linda, Mancy's Steaks, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Maumee, Medical Mutual, Packo’s at the Park, Perrysburg, Plate 21, Poco Piatti, Registry Bistro, Restaurant Week Toledo (RWT), Rockwell’s at The Oliver House, Rosie's Italian Grille, RWT co-chairs Becca Gorman and Margot Estes, Shorty's True American Roadhouse, social., Swanton, Sylvania and Waterville, The Beirut, The Café at The Oliver House, The Original Tony Packo’s, The Original Tony Packo’s and Packo’s at the Park, Treo, Ventura’s and Zinful Tasting & Taproom, Youth Leadership Toledo