Knoxville's first Restaurant Week runs Feb. 27-March 4, with local restaurants from Aubrey's to La Costa and Ruth's Chris Steak House offering fixed-price three-course meals at $25 or $35. It's a swell deal just on the surface, but the second win comes with participating restaurants making a $5 donation from each special meal purchased to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
The end game isn't just warm fuzzy feelings, though—the more than 35 sponsors, which include Pilot as the presenting sponsor, the city and county, and the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation, are hoping to generate some buzz about Knoxville as a tourist draw, while bringing additional customers through the doors during a typically slow time of year for restaurants.
According to the 2009 "Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties" report, tourists spend $638,789 daily in Knoxville and Knox County restaurants, including bars and grocery stores. Other cities, including New York, Chicago and San Diego, have built such restaurant weeks into hugely popular culinary events.
Restaurant owners, elected officials and economic development representatives will hob knob at a kick-off event at Ruth's Chris on Feb. 10. Diners are encouraged to go the event website (knoxvillerestaurantweek.com) and choose a participating restaurant, then call or e-mail the restaurant directly to make a reservation.
Knoxville restaurants may still register to participate by calling Susan Martino at 865-521-0000 before Feb. 17.