The Winter Edition of the sixth annual Restaurant Week began Monday, Feb. 22, and continues through March 5.
Thirty-seven restaurants, at the time of publication, were set to participate in the two-week celebration of the local food scene, with those eateries each offering three-course meals from a special Restaurant Week menu for $23.16.
Unibank and Pepsi are the presenting sponsors of this year’s Restaurant Week, which is launched in Worcester and managed by Pulse Magazine and its owner Paul Giorgio.
Giorgio told the Sun Monday, “There’s a real economic spinoff. In the middle of winter it has a substantial effect on the restaurant economy.”
The Summer Edition in August also capitalizes on what Giorgio says are the slowest times of the year in the restaurant business.
A conservative estimate of the more than 50,000 people expected to participate would put the economic impact at $1.1 million. Add in drinks, tips, parking and additional night-out activities, and it would be easy to gauge the impact at more than $2 million.
Restaurant Week has the added bonus of being a local affair with local flair. Giorgio said about national restaurant chains, “We don’t ask them to participate.”
Your meals during Restaurant Week, then, become, economically speaking, an efficient mechanism for driving the local economy.
“Restaurants look forward to it and people look forward to it,” Giorgio said.
The impact is not limited to the participating restaurants, he said. “We find that even people who aren’t participating in Restaurant Week also get a bump because people are talking about going out to eat.”
Restaurant Week’s reach is far and wide, Giorgio said. An estimated 170,000 people viewed the website or the Facebook page last year, he said. The visits came not only from Worcester but also surrounding towns.
And if you’re wondering who is making the decision to participate, Giorgio said nearly three-quarters of the Facebook page’s visits were made by women.
Giorgio said he’s heard from business runners who say Restaurant Week is a “discovery mechanism for places to reach new customers. … [Restaurants] do pick up new customers.”
With a set price for the advertised, discounted menu items, he said, “People are more willing to try new places for the Restaurant Week prices.”
Restaurant Weeks are common throughout the country. While people are receptive to the idea, a common knock is that while participating establishments are very busy, sometimes too much so, during the event, things slow down significantly in the weeks immediately after.
With this in mind, we suggest you make it a point to partake in Restaurant Week and then immediately make a date for another night on the town after it’s over. This will afford you the opportunity to try a new place at a reasonable price then show your support again for your favorite local establishment.