Restaurant Week returning to Elgin area after a two-year hiatus
At a time when restaurants say they need help the most, Explore Elgin Area is bringing back restaurant week after a two-year hiatus.
This year's edition, which will start Monday, Feb. 1, and runs through Feb. 12, will have a takeout theme.
Krisilee Murphy, executive director of Explore Elgin Area, said the event used to be held in March.
"But after talking with multiple restaurants, they all said, 'We really need help in February,'" Murphy said.
With the uncertain pandemic landscape making planning dine-in promotions a dicey proposition, Murphy said, event organizers wanted to augment whatever restaurants may be getting when they are allowed to open dining rooms.
"We know there's a possibility we'll move into Tier 1 and they'll open indoor dining," Murphy said. "But at such a low capacity, it's still not enough to get them by. So we want them to have this as an additional revenue source."
Murphy said the event will feature unique promotions for each participating restaurant.
"We're hoping people will get creative," she said.
Among the more than 20 restaurants already committed, some have come up with experiential options. Nick's Pizza & Pub is offering a make-it-yourself pizza kit for kids.
Cook's Sweet Boutique is offering a "sensory experience" take-away bag with seven shareable treats that go through the sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami senses of taste in addition to spicy and fizzy. The bag comes with an observation work sheet for younger kids to record their experiences.
Other participating restaurants include Elgin spots such as Al's Cafe, Plank Road Tap Room, Moni's Soul Food Fiesta, and Kubo Sushi and Saki Lounge. Businesses from other towns that will participate include Chums Shrimp Shack and Rosie O'Hare's Public House, which are both in East Dundee.
Participation is free for businesses. Restaurants that want to participate have until Monday to register at exploreelginarea.com/restaurantweek/.
The specials offered by participating restaurants will be shared on social media by Explore Elgin Area.
Murphy said the group will make it easy for restaurants to publicize themselves using a restaurant week template. Organizers also plan to sponsor a "Foodie Photo Competition" and a competition that will encourage diners to send in their receipts. The person who sends in the most receipts will receive "the ultimate gift card package," Murphy said.
Explore Elgin Area hosted restaurant week for three years until 2019 when it had to focus on another event. Murphy said she's really encouraged about the return of restaurant week.
"We're getting such a great response that we'll move forward with this again next year and beyond," she said.