Alexandria’s Winter Restaurant Week is getting ready to kick off. From January 23 – February 1, 2015, restaurants will be offering dinner for two for $35 or a three-course dinner for $35. This year, for the first time, several restaurants are also offering lunch specials, too. As consumers, it’s clear why we all love restaurant week and the value it provides. From the small business perspective, though, what’s the value in participating in an event like restaurant week?
Restaurant Week brings new customers to restaurants. In 2014, OpenTable did a study of winter restaurant weeks nationwide. The study uncovered that 73% of diners during restaurant week choose a restaurant they have never been to before. Even better, 88% of diners said that they were likely to return to the restaurant at which they dined during restaurant week. This is a great way for businesses to grow their customer base and build brand loyalty. Additionally, OpenTable discovered that 91% of diners were likely to recommend the restaurant they went to for restaurant week, so businesses are not only capturing the initial business that is generated during restaurant week itself but also follow-on business that results from word-of-mouth advertising.
Restaurant Week provides free advertising for participating businesses. While restaurants must be members of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (ACVA) to participate in Alexandria’s Winter Restaurant Week, there are no additional costs for participating. In addition to aggregating menus and promoting the event on their own website, social media, and blog, ACVA also advertises Restaurant Week through digital display ads in local and regional papers, other digital advertising, such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads, and in local print newspapers. Last year, digital advertising efforts made more than 500,000 impressions, and print advertising reached a newspaper circulation of 91,000. There are also posters, bill inserts, and brochures at participating restaurants and at the Alexandria Visitors Center. Each individual restaurant would never have the resources to promote their own restaurant to this regional audience, but by participating in an event that is widely promoted and published, restaurants benefit from a wider reach of advertising.
Restaurant Week allows restaurants to highlight new offerings or changes in the menu. Restaurants can feature any items on their Restaurant Week menu, allowing each the opportunity to highlight new entrees, desserts, or other offerings. For example, Artfully Chocolate Bistro and Wine Bar opened their location in Carlyle, and owner Nelson says that Restaurant Week “is a good way to promote the new emphasis we have on meal service.” For new restaurants, Restaurant Week allows them to showcase their menu. Several new restaurants are participating in Alexandria’s Winter Restaurant Week and are getting their menus out to a broad audience.
A small amount of work on the restaurant’s part can yield great rewards during Restaurant Week. If you would like more information on how to participate in the next Alexandria Restaurant Week, please contact Meredith Sasser at 703-652-5365 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those of you who are not in the restaurant business, we hope you will consider taking advantage of this opportunity to support local small businesses and enjoy a wonderful meal at an Alexandria restaurant. Happy dining!