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Posted: February 20, 2014

Chef Laura: Time to dine

Happy anniversary, Restaurant Week!

Laura Cook Newman

One decade ago:

  • People were low-carbin’, South Beachin’ and Atkins-crazed
  • Morgan Spurlock’s film influenced McDonald’s to discontinue “Supersizing”
  • Asian flavors like wasabi and ginger, appeared in salad dressings, sauces, and snacks like wasabi-dusted almonds

And…

Happy 10th Anniversary!

The traditional gift for the 10-year anniversary is tin.  But it hardly seems appropriate to buy you a vintage lunchbox.  We want folks to go out to eat after all, not brown-bag it.

Starting this Saturday, 314 restaurants in the Denver metro area will participate in this weeklong event.

WIIFM? 

What’s in it for you is the chance to have a multi-course dinner for $60 per couple.  And no, you don’t have to be a “couple”.  Take your mom or your BFF.  You can even go it solo for $30 a head.  Want some wine to wash down your prix fixe meal?  That’s extra.  And please tip your servers…generously.

WIIFT?

What’s in it for them (the 300+ restaurants) is some free marketing and an opportunity to drive traffic the slow week after Valentine’s Day.  Like the US Bobsled Team, these operators push in the same direction to achieve a common goal: promoting local business. 

Now that the event has turned double digits, two improvements have been made: 

  1.  The misnamed “Restaurant  Week” was two back-to-back weeks.  To increase the sense of urgency, this year they split up the weeks: one now and one August 23-29, 2014.
  2. The cost was $52.80 per deuce.  But after nine years of not taking price, it was time to drop the gimmicky total and give the restaurants some relief.

Some folks criticize Restaurant Week as “amateur week”; a time when cherry-pickin’ cheapsters push aside their TV tray, and rise from the Barcalounger to take their special gal out for a night on the town.  Don’t worry, they’ve set their DVR to record Wheel of Fortune.

But my experience with the event has always been top-notch.  Last year a coworker and I dined at EDGE and were thrilled with our experience.  The service was attentive and informative, the prix fixe menu offered a tempting variety of yummy courses, and my coworker (a former college football player and Army Ranger) was quite satisfied with the portion sizes.

This year I might repeat, try a new spot like Olive and Finch, or a tried and true spot like Le Central.  At this great price – I can afford to do all three.

And if you can’t make it this month, you’ll get another chance late summer for Restaurant Week, part deux.  Bon Apetit!

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

A good time was had by all at a participating restaurant on Sunday night. While I'm not sure they put their best foot forward, the food was tasty. It was nice to see a full restaurant on a Sunday evening and the "vibe" felt festive. There's still time to take advantage of Restaurant Week through Feb. 28th. By Chef Laura on 2014 02 25
Thanks for the plug for tipped employees. We appreciate it. Restaurant week is a great way to try new places on the cheap, while boosting sales during generally slower periods. Bon Appetit! By Ta Tee on 2014 02 20
Nice concise article - good flow - liked it a lot. By P.F. on 2014 02 20
I can't wait to try one on Sunday night! By Ted on 2014 02 20
I love restaurant week, found a wonderful restaurant in cherry creek last year, and had a great meal with a great friend. By a fan on 2014 02 20
Since I'm single and the weeks are split up, could I go during the first week and get one portion and then go back in August and get the 2nd meal? By I'm wondering on 2014 02 20
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