One of the most popular events in Traverse City is returning in February for its third year – and The Ticker has a sneak peek of what will be in store for attendees.
Traverse City Restaurant Week, created in 2011 by the Downtown Traverse City Association (DTCA) to celebrate the region's diverse array of restaurants and chefs, will take place this year from February 24 to March 2. As in past years, participating restaurants will offer three-course meals especially designed for the event all week long for just $25.
Last year's event boasted nearly two dozen participating restaurants and record dining numbers for many local eateries. “Feedback from the first two years has been really positive,” says Colleen Paveglio, marketing director at the DTCA. “Some restaurants stated they saw summer numbers for the week.”
Trattoria Stella enjoyed such success with its participation last year that the restaurant extended its $25 tasting menu for the entire month of March. Guillaume Hazael-Massieux, executive chef and owner at the recently opened Bistro FouFou in the former Hanna Bistro building downtown, plans to follow a similar model this year, keeping a $25 prix fixe menu running all of March after Restaurant Week. This is the first year Hazael-Massieux is participating in the event.
“We will be offering different menus all week long,” says the owner, noting that the restaurant will likely be offering “rillettes, steak tartare or soup for appetizers, beef Bourguignon and chicken valley d'auge for entrees, and pot de crème or beignets for desserts.” He adds they also plan to accommodate vegetarians on request.
Bistro FouFou isn't the only new participant at this year's event. While a number of area eateries closed their doors since the 2012 Restaurant Week, including Soul Hole, Hanna Bistro and The Bay Leaf, other culinary destinations have opened in their stead. Sorellina, Harbor 22 (formerly Scott's Harbor Grill), Om Cafe and The Town Plaza – all of which opened in 2012 – will join Restaurant Week for the first time in 2013.
“As a new downtown eatery, we hope to bring some recognition to our unique menu [by participating in Restaurant Week],” says Rebecca Hoffman, co-owner of The Towne Plaza. “The event will allow those who are intimidated by our menu to try it out, in hopes they will return in the future.”
A 2012 survey by the Traverse City Business News found that during the inaugural Restaurant Week in 2011, 21 percent of respondents reported going to local bars and restaurants more during Restaurant Week than they normally would. That number nearly doubled in 2012, with 38.3 percent of respondents planning to go out more during Restaurant Week than they normally would.
Perhaps contributing to the success of Restaurant Week, 97 percent of those surveyed agreed that the quality of local restaurants has improved over the past five years, with 76.4 percent calling Traverse City “a legitimate national foodie town.”
During this year's Restaurant Week, the DTCA will give away a prize package to one lucky patron containing a $50 gift card to every participating restaurant, expected to be valued at over $1,000. The list of confirmed participating restaurants for this year's event so far is as follows:
Apache Trout Grill
Blue Tractor Cook Shop
Harrington's by the Bay
Minerva's Restaurant & Bar
Mode's Bum Steer
North Peak Brewing Co.
Phil's on Front
Reflect at Cambria
The Cook's House
The Towne Plaza
The Union Cantina
More restaurants are expected to be added in the coming weeks. For a current list of 2013 participants and complete details on this year's Restaurant Week, visit www.downtowntc.com.