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Dine Diego Initiative Encourages Locals to Eat Out

From now through Oct. 15, the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association is hosting Dine Diego, a new online initiative in place of San Diego Restaurant Week.

The point is the same as restaurant week: it is to get local residents to explore a variety of San Diego eating establishments — there are 300 participating — and to enjoy what they have to offer.

Interested diners start their journey at the SanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com website. It will redirect users to a list of participating locations. The website offers specific search options such as neighborhood, food type and dining alternatives (such as outdoor dining or meal kits to-go). The site also features an interactive, clickable map as well as an alphabetized list of participants.

200 Restaurants

“With the climate we are in, specifically in California, there was no way we could ask our 200 restaurant members to offer discounts this year,” said Andy Baumann, executive board member of the California Restaurant Association’s San Diego Chapter. “So, we needed to make a choice as a chapter. San Diego is one of the top tourism hubs. There are no conventions happening and little travel, but local Californians and San Diegans want to go out. This month-long event will push them to get out and dine. Kristina Owenburg, manager of the San Diego chapter, said Dine Diego does a solid job at consolidating all the searchable information diners might want to look for.

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“The local chapter of the California Restaurant Association and the San Diego Tourism Authority wanted to come together this year to help support the restaurant community in a way that required little added work for the restaurants. Restaurants are already going through undoubtedly the hardest time in their history and we wanted to highlight all the innovative things they are already doing, like family meals, take and make kits, cocktails to go and an array of different in-house specials.”

Open Registration

To have an even bigger impact, Baumann said the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association decided to open registration to Dine Diego to more than just its 200 restaurant members. As a result, over 300 eateries are partaking, he said, including Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop downtown, Terra American Bistro in College East and Fiesta de Reyes, located in Old Town.

“We have over 200 members in San Diego, and cost depends on revenue,” said Baumann. “But we felt this time, the more restaurants we have banded together, the better. So, we decided, in order to entice new members, we would waive the participation fee this time around. We encouraged all restaurants to participate, without being members this year, and hopefully they can see the benefit and join our association later.”

The hope is that Dine Diego will generate as much if not more bookings than Restaurant Week, said Baumann. During January’s Restaurant Week, there were almost 6,000 reservations made, with more than 150,000 diners partaking across the seven days. With Dine Diego running 30 days, the San Diego chapter is anticipating several hundred thousand diners will visit participating restaurants or order to-go.

Economic Boost

Julie Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, said Dine Diego should give local restaurants a boost in lieu of the traditional fall San Diego Restaurant Week event.

“We want San Diegans to support our local economy by safely spending a night or a weekend in our hotels, by dining in our restaurants, by shopping at our stores and by having fun at our beaches and bays and other attractions like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo,” she said. 

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