D.C. Restaurant Week 2011: The deals, the people, the experience
Updated: January 18, 2011 - 10:05 am
- Mie N Yu (Photo Credit: Julia Benton)
He says no. Naturally gregarious, Pekarski says he welcomes any business, but at the same time he does believe that many of the diners that come out for Restaurant Week are there just for the deal and not really willing to spend any more than the fixed price.
But then again, isn’t that what the promotion is about? Going out to great restaurants, and not having to pay the full price?
Restaurant Week originated in New York City in 1992. New York was hosting the Democratic National Convention that year, and Tim Zagat, of Zagat Survey, and the late restaurateur, Joseph Baum, developed the concept to promote the city’s eateries. Participating restaurants charged $19.92 for a three-course prix fixe.
The promotion was considered a success that year, and what was originally a four-day event has now evolved into a week-long—and in some cases, month-long—dining affair.
Washington, D.C. adopted Restaurant Week after the September 11 attacks. The city’s hospitality industry suffered greatly after 9/11, forcing restaurants to scale back hours and lay off staff.
Lynne Breaux, president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, saw the promotion as a way to boost D.C.’s restaurant industry. She wanted the event to get people excited about dining out again, and to encourage people to patronize restaurants they’ve never been to.
Around 50 to 60 restaurants participated in the District’s first Restaurant Week. Over the years, more and more restaurants in D.C., as well as eateries in nearby Virginia and Maryland cities, signed on to the promotion. Today, over 200 dining establishments are participating in this winter’s Restaurant Week.
D.C.’s dining scene has evolved greatly over last decade. Esquire recently ranked the District number 8 in its top ten “America’s Best Restaurant Cities: 2010 Edition.” Last year, several D.C. metropolitan eateries and chefs were featured in different shows on Food Network and Travel Channel. There’s a vibrant community of foodies—food bloggers, amateur and professional food photographers, and those who love dining out. People just care more about what they’re eating these days, say Breaux. She also notes that dining out has become even more popular since Obama took office. The President and First Lady are often spotted at local restaurants and are known for their date nights.
We’ve become a city obsessed with food and restaurants. And so it’s no surprise that the event has gained such popularity. But, the fact still remains that many people are expecting to get a good deal at restaurants this week.
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