- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The days leading up to Valentine’s Day tend to be the slowest days for restaurants in February, but Calvert County is trying to give residents an incentive for braving the cold with the county’s first-ever Restaurant Week.
Modeled after A Taste of Solomons and similar events in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, Calvert County Department of Economic Development has brought more than 30 restaurants in the county together for a week of special fixed-price menus from Feb. 1 through 10.
Joyce Baki, county tourism specialist, is the one who brought the event to Calvert, said Carrie Lovejoy, the county’s public information specialist.
Lovejoy explained that Baki wanted to try it and see whether it works in a setting like Calvert County.
“We at least want to bring the restaurants together,” Lovejoy said of staff’s hopes for the week.
The number of participating restaurants has exceeded staff’s expectations of 10, Lovejoy said; there are 33 restaurants participating countywide.
“I don’t know how I’ll get to all these places,” Lovejoy said jokingly, adding that all the restaurant specials “are pretty great.”
Scott Adams, owner of The Frying Pan in Lusby, said having the county behind the industry is “tremendous.” He said the event is a great way to get the word out about his “meat and potatoes” restaurant.
During the week, participating restaurants will offer lunch specials from $10 to $15 and dinner specials between $20 and $30, though prices do vary. Some restaurants are offering all-day specials rather than a lunch and/or dinner special, and many of the dinner specials include an appetizer, entree and dessert.
“These folks really took the time to put these menus together,” Lovejoy said of the participating restaurants.
Tax, gratuity, beverages and alcoholic beverages are not included in the special pricing. Although restaurants have created the special menus, patrons still will be able to choose items on a restaurant’s regular menu.
Saphron Restaurant in Prince Frederick has created four fixed-priced menu options for the special week. Owner Charleen Obal said she paired each of the menus with a glass of wine to give the customers something extra.
“We have four separate menus; that way, it gives people a lot of choices,” Obal said.
At the “upscale, white tablecloth” restaurant, Obal said customers “really like the attention we give them. ... I think they like that it makes them feel like home.”
Obal said she hopes Restaurant Week will not only be a success for her but a good way to boost business throughout the county.
“It’s a good way to keep spreading our name,” which Obal said does “mislead” some customers into thinking the restaurant serves Indian cuisine.
Obal said she might try out a few other restaurants that are participating but hopes local restaurants, rather than chains, will take advantage of the business.
Adams said he is hoping the event will bring new customers to The Frying Pan, which has a different dinner menu each night for the event.
“We get to know our customers,” Adams said of the staff at the restaurant, adding that he can call customers by name. “Hospitality. That’s what I try and instill.”
During the week, patrons can enter a drawing for prizes by completing an online feedback form or filling out feedback cards at the restaurants during their visit. According to the Restaurant Week web page, the drawing will take place Feb. 17.
“Our hope is that it will be successful. We’re really excited about Restaurant Week,” Lovejoy said. “I think it’s going to be a really interesting event.”