by Susan Ellis
After a successful first year, Downtown Dining Week is set to return November 15th-21st.
The idea came from Felicia Willett of Felicia Suzanne’s.
Willett says a number of factors came into play to set the event in motion, but she notes that it chiefly boils down to the fact that the downtown restaurant scene is unusually close. They had banded together to before to hold progressive dinners, and since other cities had held restaurant weeks, it seemed worth a try.
As Willett remembers it, she made some calls to her friends at Majestic, McEwen’s, Sole, and others.
“Y’all interested in this?” she asked.
“Yeah, absolutely” was the answer.
The Center City Commission (CCC) was then given the task to see Downtown Dining Week into fruition.
A traditionally slow time for restaurants was chosen, and about 20 restaurants — the Inn at Hunt Phelan, Tug’s, the Pig on Beale, Bangkok Alley, among them — signed on to participate. The deal was simple enough: a three-course meal for $20.09.
“It surprised them how well it was received,” says Leslie Gower of the CCC.
For this year’s event, some details are still being worked out, like which restaurants will participate. But some tweaks have already been made. The date has been pushed to the week before Thanksgiving. The price for the three-course meal is now $20.10, and now the more casual restaurants have the option of having the cost cover two meals.
Willett says that some restaurants struggled with the volume or a complicated menu. Work is being done to smooth those wrinkles.
Willett says in the case of Felicia Suzanne’s, Downtown Dining Week 2009 not only increased volume but introduced her restaurant to a younger clientele.
“Huge!” she says of the week. “It was huge for us.”
Center City Commission hopes to have downtowndiningweek.com launched this week.