Foodies behold: San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW) is returning to San Diego January 2021.
The bi-annual eight-day event is when hundreds of local restaurants offer discounted, prix-fixe menus to encourage people to dine out and, hopefully, gain new customers. Participating restaurants include Tom Ham’s Lighthouse downtown and Rockin’ Baja Lobster, among a long list of others.
In September, the California Restaurant Association San Diego Chapter (CRA), which has hosted SDRW for 16 years, pivoted as a result of COVID-19. Instead of hosting SDRW, so not to ask already impacted food and beverage places to create discounted meals amid the crisis, it offer “Dine Diego.”
The initiative converted SanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com into a month-long portal with a list of over 200 participating locations and their respective services. This included family meals, take-out, take and make kits, delivery, food to-go and cocktails to-go, as well as an array of different in-house specials.
Now that the hospitality industry is back on track, CRA’s San Diego Chapter manager Kristina Owenburg said the organization felt it was the right time to return to its roots.
“Dine Diego was to focus on what restaurants were doing – take out, drinks-to-go, etc. Now, restaurants are back in their groove and the public is ready to dine out and eat out,” she said. “So, we decided to go back to what we know, Restaurant Week, and give people something to look forward to.”
SDRW will run from Jan. 17 through Jan. 24 and will feature over 160 restaurants, Owenburg said. Participating eateries will offer three-course prix-fixe dinner menus ranging from $20 to $60 per person. Two-course prix-fixe lunch menus will cost individuals $10-$25, she said.
Restaurants will follow all Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandated COVID-19 protocols as well as continue to offer to-go options.
The program will have some slight modifications this time around because of the pandemic, said Owenburg.
For example, CRA’s SDRW registration fee has been significantly lowered from $950 to $350, in accommodation of operators that are still struggling financially during this time. Owenburg also said, while Dine Diego was free and open to any San Diego-based restaurant, SDRW will only be open to CRA members. Much like the SDRW registration fee, membership for CRA is currently at an emergency rate, Owenburg said.
Registration for SDRW opened just last week and will hopefully reach its usual number of roughly 180 participating restaurants, said Owenburg. While it is too early for projections, last January’s Restaurant Week prompted almost 6,000 reservations, according to the organization, and saw more than 150,000 diners across the eight days.
Eat Out and Support
The goal for January’s SDRW is the same as always, as per Andy Baumann, executive board member of CRA’s San Diego Chapter. That is to encourage San Diegans to eat out and support participating restaurants in droves. Except, this time, because of COVID-19, support is even more imperative. This event will subsequently create work for servers, cooks, farmers, suppliers and other affected groups, he said.
As of last week, San Diego County officially fell into the most restrictive COVID-19 tier. This means restaurants will have to cease all indoor operations until further notice.
Owenburg said she isn’t concerned it will damper the forthcoming SDRW plans.
“All of the restaurants are adhering by the San Diego County guidelines, including social distancing, mask requirements, etc.,” she said. “We have a link to the county’s guidelines on our site and all participating restaurants are required to read it and click the box that says they are adhering to those guidelines. The event will also adapt to whatever the regulations are at the time, whether that is all outdoor seating, take-out, to-go, etc. We will be forging ahead with the event and focusing on whatever is allowed at the time.”