As the restaurant industry struggles through another season under the gloom of Covid-19 related issues that have forced many operators to close their doors, the organizers of the oldest Restaurant Week program in the nation are debuting a revamped formula in an attempt to help. Dubbed NYC Restaurant Week To Go, it will run from January 25-31 featuring 570 establishments spread across all five boroughs of the city, with the option to continue the program another week until February 7th.
Every restaurant will be offering at least one takeout or delivery meal for either lunch or dinner for $20.21. That’s substantially lower than their last pre-pandemic promotion, where prix fixe lunch meals were $26, and three-course dinners ran $42. If an establishment does have outdoor dining, the promotion can be offered to customers choosing that option.
By deciding to pivot from their traditional format that focused on in-person dining, the nonprofit organization that runs the ever-popular event, NYC & Company, are hoping to draw attention to the plight of the many dining establishments across the city that are struggling to survive without the ability to offer indoor dining. “Restaurants and restaurant workers need our support now more than ever, so it was important to us that all eateries across the five boroughs had the opportunity to participate in this program aimed at increasing local support. We are thrilled that more than 570 restaurants have signed on, and we are grateful to each of them for coming together to showcase NYC’s world-class cuisine during this reimagined NYC Restaurant Week. And to New Yorkers we say make plans to do your part – order often and be generous with gratuities,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company.
Since restaurants’ budgets are tight, the decision was made to waive the substantial fee required for participating in the event this time, which seems to have helped since a record number of establishments have signed up. Previously, the entry fee was $2,800 for locations in Manhattan and $1,500 for any in the other boroughs. Included in that fee was entry into both the summer and winter restaurant weeks and an annual membership in NYC & Company. To offset the costs, both last summer’s and this winter’s in-person events were canceled, the company partnered with MasterCard (the main sponsor) and Stella Artois to help pull off the event.
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They also debuted another innovation for this year’s event. Mastercard is providing any registered cardholders in their All in NYC: Neighborhood Getaways promotion with a $10 statement credit for each purchase made, up to a total of $100. At $10.21 per order, hopes are high that it will draw high levels of interest.
To ensure maximum market penetration, they also negotiated agreements with numerous delivery platforms. Seamless, Grubhub, BentoBox, Bbot, and Tock have either discounted commissions or waived subscription fees during the promotional period.
Another unique part of this year’s event is several new offerings under their restaurant collections selections. While these change each year, they have created several ones that reflect the times’ current nature. Fry-Yay! focuses on fried goods, Black-Owned highlights African-American owners, The Slice Is Right deals with the city’s iconic pizzas, Winter Warm-Up is a round-up of the best bowls in the city, and Stella Artois To Go lets consumers order a sponsor’s beer.
One final innovation they have incorporated is updating the website for the event to direct customers to appropriate delivery platforms, to go ordering sites, and information about what establishments are offering outdoor dining and heating.
Only time will tell if this iteration of the dining week program, one popular across the country, will succeed. “We wanted to come up with a solution to continue our long-standing tradition of NYC Restaurant Week in a way that would support New York City’s dining industry during this critical time. As Restaurant Week originated in New York City, this was important to us, and we developed NYC Restaurant Week To Go, to highlight takeout and delivery across the five boroughs. We are optimistic about the possibility of other cities taking on some form of a takeout dining program as well, as the world continues to face the effects of the pandemic,” said Alyssa Schmid, Director, Communications at NYC & Company.