Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 3, 2013

Restaurants enthusiastic about Restaurant Week

By KATHY GIBBONS kgibbons@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

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TRAVERSE CITY — Numbers aren't in tone yet, but a sampling of businesses involved in this year’s third annual Traverse City Restaurant Week said it’s been a resounding success.

“Unbelievable. Unreal,” said Myles Anton, executive chef and proprietor at Trattoria Stella in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, when contacted Friday afternoon. “It started with a bang on Sunday. We did 250 people and it kind of dipped a little in the week, but it was still spectacular.

“We are totally booked ... with waiting lists going. It’s unbelievable how many people we have.”

Restaurant Week ran Feb. 24 through March 2 this year. Participating restaurants offered multi-course meals at a special price of $25 per person, and many presented special menus for the event.

The event's late-February, early-March time frame pushes traffic during what's usually a light period.

“We definitely slow down in the winter and typically after Valentine’s Day and the Winter Wowfest, things dip down quite a bit,” Anton said. “But the last three years with this going, it’s been an awesome week of activity and it helps me give people extra hours.

“There’s a lot of OT going on right now because we definitely don’t have the summer staff right now that we usually carry.”

And that’s part of the point of Restaurant Week — to pick up business during an otherwise slow time and attract new customers for the area’s restaurants.

“They have a chance to look at our whole menu and see what we offer,” said Guillaume Hazael-Massieux, chef/owner at Bistro Foufou, which hadn't yet opened during Restaurant Week 2012. “When they taste the food, we hope they come back.”

Mode’s Bum Steer downtown wasn’t as busy this week as it was in previous years. Manager Skylar Mode attributed that to the growing number of participating eateries – 27 this year.

“It’s not bad, but definitely not as busy as the first year,” she said.

Restaurant Week shows promise for tourism potential. Bryan Moore, general manager at the Traverse City Courtyard by Marriott, said out-of-towners began calling months ago to book reservations during Restaurant Week.

“What we’re seeing is that people are coming up from downstate just for Restaurant Week,” he said. “We also see many of our corporate guests who are frequent guests of the hotel will arrange to have their spouse or significant other join them during this time. Then while they’re on business, they do Restaurant Week.”

The Bayshore Resort in Traverse City offered a package that combined a gift certificate for a Restaurant Week meal of the guests’ choice. Melissa Lindquist in group sales said most of the hotel’s Restaurant Week guests seem to come from Sault Ste. Marie and Grand Rapids, making a two-hour drive to come and enjoy a one-night getaway, she said.

“I’m not sure it’s a tourism-driver yet, but it’s starting to be,” said the Downtown Development Authority Marketing Director Colleen Paveglio. “I think in the years to come, it will be.”

Bistro Foufou planned to continue its Restaurant Week menu through the month of March. Aerie Restaurant at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa also announced it will extend its $25 three-course Restaurant Week menu March 4-9.