The 12th annual Denver Restaurant Week on its second half and chefs and restaurant owners, much like diners, love it or hate it. Over 300 restaurants are participating this year, some old, some new, but overall numbers of participants is down from years past. We asked some of the fans and some of the foes why they give it a thumbs down or up.
Frank Bonanno, Bonanno Concepts (Mizuna, Luca, Osteria Marco, and others)
My restaurants were the first to get on board for Restaurant Week thirteen years ago when Visit Denver was first testing the waters. It’s a great initiative. There’s a reason every major city in the United States has a Restaurant week--the price point provides incentive to folks to try out restaurants that are otherwise cost prohibitive; it brings people from the suburbs into the city where they not only dine at new restaurants but have a chance to explore new neighborhoods. It’s a great way to get Denver out and about and show off what we have to offer as a dining town.
Patrick DuPays, Z Cuisine
Over the years, we have refused to participate for a few reasons. This time of year, when Colorado farm produce is not in season and all farmers markets closed, is just not a good time to try to show off your cooking. Second, it is unacceptable for us to see our name associated with national chains like P.F Chang. Also, the special would work better if the weekend was not included as most restaurants are too busy during those days anyway.
Gary Sumihiro, Charcoal
Restaurant week is positive in that it helps sales during a slow period. After the holidays, most restaurants see a dip in sales and Restaurant Week is a nice boost to get us through to conventions, theater and patio season. We also view it as an alternative to expensive individual and print advertising as Restaurant Week is broadly promoted by many. On the other hand, we are also concerned that in the future Restaurant Week pricing will keep pace with a restaurant's rising cost of doing business.
Jon Robbins, Bistro Barbes
The number one reason we do not participate in Restaurant Week is that I don't believe in the inherent philosophy of changing the concept of my restaurant for the sake of attracting guests that otherwise wouldn't spend money in my restaurant or any restaurant for that matter. I see little or no merit in dumbing down our menu, even temporarily, to attract guests whom I was never trying to attract in the first place. If I wanted our cover average to be $30 per person, than I would have designed the restaurant in the first place to have a $30 cover average.
The other big reason we stay out is for the sanity of my employees. I was able to attract my employees by providing a challenging environment dependent on the ability and desire of my employees to learn and to grow. During Restaurant Week, learning is put on hold and is replaced with a "grind"; an unenjoyable and often thankless week of repative tasks similar to what I imagine prisoners must go through. The guests that are attracted to Restaurant Week are often people who, for one reason or another, do not go out to eat often. While we are in the Service industry where our purpose is to serve, there have been too many undesirable guests who do not treat myself or my staff with the type of mutual respect we've come to expect from the plethora of customers that frequent all of Denver's restaurants throughout the year.
Tom Coohill, Coohills
For our restaurant, it is simply fun to try to create very interesting dishes that can excite and inspire new guests. I realize that Restaurant Week attracts people who may usually not go out to eat, people who may only go out to eat once a year. We like to give them the oppoortunity to try our restaurant and show them that great food doesnt need to be really expensive. A lot of times, guests who try us during the special return even if it is justfor one special occasion.
Karin Lawler, The Truffle Table
Our restaurant likes to provide an affordable experience all year long with grace and pride, without a turn and burn fast paced mentality that is often hard on wait staff as well as the kitchen. Our cover average is near $30 all the time so it would be hard to justify participating in something that offers what we do the rest of the time.
What do you think of the special?