Providence’s tourism movers and shakers at the Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau were not the first to entice patrons to the city’s restaurants with the promise of a delicious meal at many of the most popular destinations in town for an attractive, fixed price during Restaurant Week.
But they surely have perfected the concept, morphing it from one summer week to two-week stints, one in the high summer and one in the depths of the winter.
The Providence Restaurant Weeks campaign is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The 2012 winter dates have been chosen and the program will run from Jan. 15 through Jan. 28. Newport is not far behind, itself holding two fixed-price Restaurant Weeks annually, one having wrapped up in mid-November.
Some visitors to the City by the Sea’s dining-out bash were there not so much to make reservations as to take notes. Representatives of a medium-sized New England community considering putting on its own Restaurant Week spent a week in Newport this past fall. They dined out at the marquee spots in town and generally studied the Newport model. It was with admiration that the visitors met with Kathryn Farrington, the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s vice president of marketing & community partnerships.
The Restaurant Week advance-team members were effusive in their praise of the size, success and lucrative sponsor participation of Newport’s dining-out extravaganza. They wondered aloud if their smaller town would be able to mount a promotion on the scale of Newport Restaurant Week.
As the visitors uncovered more of the anatomy of Restaurant Week, their study prompted numerous questions and scores of minor details which would have to be attended to back home. What should the cost be for the prix fixe meal?
They were leaning toward the ground rules of the original Restaurant Week begun in New York City in 1992, to offer the fixed-price special at each participating restaurant for the “price of the year,” which this year would be $20.12. Upon further discussion, it was agreed that while the price point was acceptable for luncheon, it would have to be higher for dinner. The three-person panel was leaning towards $30.12 for the dinner prix fixe.