Food Service & Agriculture, Nonprofits, and Retail

Rockford Restaurant Week serves up customers

April 2, 2013
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Rockford Restaurant Week participants and organizers are pleased with the turnout and revenue from the inaugural event.

Held March 18-23, the eight participating restaurants served a total of 726 menu offerings.

“Of all the restaurant events we’ve done, and this was our 12th in eight months, Rockford Restaurant Week got the most attention by far,” said Andrew Steiner, fund development specialist with Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, the charity for the event. “People are paying more attention to their food, to where it comes from and who’s preparing it, and I think a weeklong series supporting local restaurants caught their attention.

“If you look at the menus these restaurants offered, they were impressive. Sour orange mojo roasted pork, coffee-grilled elk chop, Funghi Ripieni — you’re not going to find that kind of thing anywhere else.”

With $1 from each meal going to the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, the event raised enough money to distribute more than 2,900 meals to food-insecure families.

“Working with local restaurants allows us to get our message to people who might never have heard of us before and might not be aware that food insecurity is a serious issue in West Michigan,” said Steiner. “Fourteen percent of Kent County residents struggle with hunger, but that struggle goes unseen for most of us who don’t agonize over the choice to pay for prescriptions or groceries, or heating bills or food.”

Rockford Restaurant Week also helped increase sales for the participating restaurants during what is typically a slower time of the year.

“Chef Glenn at Reds on the River put it this way: March is absolutely the deadest time of the year,” Steiner said. “Rockford Restaurant Week gave people a reason to get out of the house, and we think it really did boost business for most of the restaurants that were involved. When I told Glenn that more than 700 specials had been served during the week, he was amazed. It exceeded our expectations, and for a first-time event, that’s really satisfying.”

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