By Joseph Poulos
Grand Rapids Restaurant Week, an annual event that raises funds for Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary program, is slated for Nov. 5-13 and will feature over 56 different local restaurants.
Residents will be able to use a mobile app to check in at participating restaurants and experience the various tastes of Grand Rapids.
Last year’s Restaurant Week event was much different due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Last year we decided to switch to a mobile path on the phone and switch to regular menus for participating restaurants,” said Carly Contreras, Marketing Coordinator for Experience Grand Rapids. “Each location would have a check-in number. When you check into three check-ins… you would get a prize redeemable at Restaurant Week. We switched gears to make it more digital and more safe for guests.”
The gifts available for residents with three or more check-ins include a Restaurant Week-branded charcuterie board or an admission to the Wine, Beer & Food Festival at DeVos Place from Nov. 19-20.
This is the 12th annual Restaurant Week, and organizers hope it will encourage residents to expand their culinary horizons while supporting the local food industry.
“I feel that Grand Rapids is a big foodie city, everyone loves our food scene, especially the unique restaurants that we have,” Contreras said. “It brings out a great community of food lovers. It is a great place to showcase our food workers, especially during really hard times. It highlights how strong of a community we have in Kent County.”
Due to the pandemic and resulting labor shortage, event organizers want to remind the public that it is important to support our local restaurants.
“It is really hard because we want to drive traffic to restaurants, but because it’s understaffed, it is a hard balance,” Contreras said. “Keep up with carry-out (orders), sitting down at restaurants, trying new restaurants (and) expanding your horizons on which ones we do go to (helps). Keeping up with their (restaurants) social media before you go can help if they are changing their hours for COVID. Practice patience when you go to a restaurant. Participating in things like Restaurant Week and purchasing gift cards. That is all we can do right now as we navigate this very hard time for our industry.”
Supporting Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids also contributes to a good cause. A percentage of proceeds will go toward developing the next generation of chefs and restaurant workers.
“One thing that we do every year, we donate from Restaurant Week some of the funds to the GRCC’s Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts,” Contreras said. “This year we are doing $1 donated for each check in at each Restaurant Week location. We think it is really important to continue supporting education towards the industry, especially here in GR.”
Restaurant Week passes are available alongside a full list of participating restaurants here.