The slow months for the hospitality industry have arrived, but that's good news for diners on the look out for special events and deals. Local groups are taking new measures to shake up business for Asheville's restaurants until the springtime tourist influx.
The Chamber of Commerce will kick off its inaugural Asheville Restaurant Week with Bites and Sips. That event, a night of small plates and tastings at UNC-Asheville's Kimmel Arena, is in its second year. “It might be a great opportunity to try a new dish or try a new restaurant and pick something out that you might want to go to during Asheville Restaurant Week,” says Erin Leonard, director of communications at the Chamber.
Eighteen restaurants, three breweries and Troy & Sons distillery will showcase their products at Bites and Sips on Thursday, Jan. 31. For $50 per person, patrons can eat their fill of samples between 6 and 9 p.m. Proceeds from that event benefit the Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the restaurants at Bites and Sips will also participate in Asheville Restaurant Week, which begins the following day, Friday, Feb. 1, and lasts through Thursday, Feb. 7. Throughout that time, more than two dozen restaurants will offer special prix fixe menus.
“We were approached by restaurants who wanted to do a restaurant week but needed an organization behind it to kind of help with spearheading, so that's where we stepped in,” Leonard says. “We've got the Moose Café family-style to more of your white-tablecloth places like The Market Place. That way, if you want to just go out with your family or if you want to go out for a special date, you've got quite a range there.”
The Chamber has developed several pricing tiers, ranging from $15 lunches to $30 dinners. Savings between a restaurant's regular menu and the Asheville Restaurant Week meals vary by location. Sometimes, the benefit to the consumer translates to just a few dollars; other times, it's more substantial. Leonard says she does not know which restaurants will offer the deepest deals. After all, the event isn't just about discounts. “We're trying to bring attention to those restaurants during a time that is typically slower for our community, really encouraging those locals and visitors to come and try out our food,” she says.
For a list of participating restaurants and some of their menus, visit ashevillerestaurantweek.com. Leonard says the Chamber is in the process of making the website interactive. In addition to the menus, it will feature a poll where diners can vote for their favorite Troy & Sons signature cocktail, offered at participating restaurants throughout the week.
Have room for more? Asheville Independent Restaurants' Small Plate Crawl, an event with a similar mission, begins Tuesday, Feb. 26. Look for more coverage of the Crawl in Xpress in February, or visit ashevillesmallplatecrawl.com.