Each American city both has its share of local favorite restaurants, and diamonds that have yet to be discovered. For restaurateurs, the climb to becoming a local favorite can feel like it’s paved with obstacles beyond compare.
But then there’s Restaurant Week.
Before you say “ugh, that sounds like more work than it’s worth,” let’s all just browse a nice little history lesson first.
The History Of Restaurant Week
Believe it or not, Restaurant Week started as a New York City tradition. Fast forward, and it has grabbed international fame.
Originally, it began in NYC as an annual week-long dining experience featuring a listing of restaurants offering a pre-determined menu at a matching price-point for each participating location. Nowadays, Restaurant Week can last up to a month, and takes place multiple times a year in some cities.
Traditionally held in early winter and summer for most cities, the increase in adoption country-wide and appreciation consumer wide has turned it into a phenomenon.
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1992: The First Restaurant Week
The first Restaurant Week was thought up by Tim Zagat and Joe Baum and began in NYC as a lunch-only promotional event.
With Joe, a top restaurateur known most notably for dining rooms such as Windows of the World, the two planned the first Restaurant Week to coincide with the Democratic Convention in NYC – a week filled with new guests, mostly reporters, looking for dining options.
The week-long event was such a success it has grown beyond a one-week event to 4-weeks during the year in NYC and become a nationwide phenomenon.
How Restaurant Week Works
Depending on where your restaurant is located, Restaurant Week varies. In general, the concept is that local restaurants partner up with chambers of commerce and local tourist organizations to promote a week of lunch and dinner specials.
Typically, restaurants offer reduced prices for a prix fixe menu, for both lunch and dinner. In theory, what a restaurant loses in check averages they would gain in sales volume from the increased foot traffic.
Some data reports an increased volume as high as 50% during restaurant week – though some owners are skeptical of whether or not they’d see the same result.