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Food Fest: Two Restaurant Weeks Better Than One, Say Supporters

For those who like Restaurant Week, an annual reduced-rate movable feast held in January, they should like it twice as much next year.

In view of the event’s popularity, the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association has announced two dates for 2008. Co-sponsors include San Diego Magazine and the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau.

(Hint: Residents who enjoy a surge in popularity with their friends and relatives from hotter climes during summer will have an opportunity to take them out on the town for less.)

Ingrid Croce, who owns Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter and has spearheaded Restaurant Week, said it has drawn more restaurants and more diners each year since its inception in 2005.

In January ’05, 71 local eateries participated. In 2006, the number grew to 100, and this year, it was 130.

By separating the restaurants into two price categories, those that offered three-course meals for $30 and others whose fare went for $40, organizers correctly assumed the lineup would increase. However, as Croce pointed out, many upscale eateries stuck with the lower price.

“This January, we did over 225,000 dinners in six days and many restaurants extended the offer, so there’s a lot of excitement in response to the idea of having two Restaurant Weeks,” Croce said.

The dates selected for the upcoming events are Jan. 27 through Feb. 1 and June 22-27.

Another reason for doubling the pleasure of Restaurant Week is to provide more of a business balance. While downtown’s eateries enjoy high traffic from conventioneers during the winter, business slows down in the summertime. Conversely, restaurants in the county’s beach communities have less business in the winter.

“This year, I think a lot of us will sweeten the package with wine pairings, but not complimentary drinks because that’s not legal,” Croce said. “Some may add an extra course, so I see this getting better and better.”

Maybe three times a year?

“In New York City, they do it three times a year,” she said.


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