Restaurant Week hopes to give dining industry a boost during trying time

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Restaurant Week (Part 1)

It has become a biannual tradition for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), but this time is different after nearly a year-long pandemic.

On Friday, D.C. ended its ban on indoor dining to allow 25% capacity just in time for the winter edition of Restaurant Week, which runs two weeks from Jan. 25 to Feb. 7.

“We do a summer and a winter Restaurant Week every year, typically in August and January,” RAMW President Kathy Hollinger told WTOP. “Summertime was very much rooted in takeout, delivery, outside dining. … [Winter] is still rooted in a lot of takeout and delivery, but also in family meals whether that’s curbside pickup, dine-in, takeout.”

In-person brunch costs $22 per person or $35 to $55 for dinner. Carry-out is cheaper at $35 for individuals, $60 for two people or $120 for four people. If you want to splurge, a second tier costs $55 for individuals, $100 for two or $200 for four.

“We have Restaurant Week to Go, which are meals packaged for two or four people,” Hollinger said. “Customers can preorder their pre-fixed menu for curbside pickup [to eat] wherever they choose to have it — at home, in their front yard, in their backyard with heaters and fire pits, or on the premises at restaurants indoor or outdoor.”

More than 225 restaurants will participate across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

“We have restaurants that are more fast or fine causal like Rocklands Barbecue and CHIKO on Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle,” Hollinger said. “Then you have Eddie V’s in Tysons Corner where they would likely be participating at a higher price point.”

“You’ve got more casual and upscale casual from Matchbox to Pisco Y Nazca to Shaw’s Tavern. … Equinox Restaurant, Founding Farmers … and nationally-acclaimed Rasika at Penn Quarter and West End offering delicious menu offerings at a discount.”

This isn’t the first time the local restaurant industry has faced trying times.

“Restaurant Week was born from crisis in 2001, post-911,” Hollinger said. “Here we are supporting restaurant recovery efforts due to COVID-19. Now more than ever, our restaurants and their employees really need support. … They already operate on extremely thin profit margins pre-COVID. You can imagine how fragile the industry is.”

It’s truly been a bizarre year for managers trying to keep up with restrictions.

“They were incredibly paralyzed and had to modify their operations in unimaginable ways. To stay afloat, they had to be incredibly innovative to find ways to still offer a service on a staff that was 90% let go … yet they continued to move forward.”

Find the list of participating restaurants online.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Restaurant Week (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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