The holiday season is approaching, but with the economy in the doldrums, experts predict a slump in shopping and entertaining as consumers scale back.
While frugality may be good, even noble, the season is the bread and butter for retailers and a vital part of the year for restaurants as well. To that end, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, with an assist from the Asheville Downtown Association, the city and others parties, has a plan to entice more people to venture downtown and open their wallets, which is not only good for local businesses but the local economy as well.
Called “Experience the Sizzle,” the campaign will feature various special customer deals in downtown shops and restaurants the first 21 days of December. And each Saturday (Dec. 6, 13 and 20), those downtown will be treated to fireworks displays over the city through the efforts of the Grove Park Inn and Spa, which has donated $40,000 for the “Seasonal Sizzle at Seven” shows, kicking off each Saturday at 7 p.m.
Participating AIR restaurants will offer “Sizzle Specials” on the same Saturdays as the 7 p.m. fireworks. These specials will be created for the holidays and keep value for the customers in mind, according to AIR Executive Director Roya June. The campaign will also include “Appy Hour” on the first three Thursdays in December (Dec. 4, 11 and 18) from 5 to 7 p.m. with value-priced appetizers.
“We’re basically doing this to keep the downtown alive during the December season,” June says. “It’s like a big vitamin pill for downtown … and also a way to encourage people to come out to eat.”
But the campaign is aiming to do more that just boost commerce. It being the holidays, the campaign also has a serious charitable side as well. AIR is working with MANNA FoodBank to develop the charity side of the campaign, asking citizens of the greater Asheville area to support the food drive by donating cans of food to the MANNA van and the AIR booth when they come to enjoy the fireworks. And while any foodstuffs are welcome, June says MANNA needs tuna, peanut butter, dried beans and meals in a can (stew or chili). AIR will then match the number of cans donated to MANNA.