Triangle Restaurant Week returns as industry faces pandemic-related setbacks

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Triangle Restaurant Week, a celebration of culinary excellence held at restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas, will resume operations from January 24.

The event, which will last until January 30, usually takes place in January and June. Damon Butler, founder of Triangle Restaurant Week, said the event allows restaurants and customers to experience new restaurants.

“Restaurants have more options to go off the menu and try to think of something special and unique to offer diners,” he said. “It’s great fun for chefs and restaurateurs.”

No reservations, tickets or passes are required to attend. Individuals can attend and eat at different prices. A 3-course lunch is $15 and a 2-3 course dinner is $25-$40.

Amber Watson, founder and creator of food blog Bites of Bull City, said she was delighted the event was returning because food plays a huge role in our lives.

“(The) nostalgic piece of us always wants to have a good meal, have fun, get lost in the delicious food and not worry about everything that’s going on,” Watson said.

Coquette Brasserie partner Kevin Jennings said people can be nervous about trying new restaurants because they know what they’re going to spend and where they’re going to spend it. He is delighted that his restaurant has been included in this year’s lineup.

“We’re always so grateful and thankful when the public focuses on restaurants, especially with the last 24 months behind us,” Jennings said.

Impact of the pandemic

Butler said this year’s Triangle Restaurant Week has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, Butler said the event saw a 30% decline in restaurant attendance, largely due to rising food costs and a shortage of catering staff.

Watson believes there is less excitement surrounding this year’s event compared to previous years due to ongoing struggles within the restaurant industry and fears surrounding COVID-19.

“I wish there were more places, and I wish everyone was more excited about dining and not worried about getting COVID while dining at these lovely places “Watson said.

Jennings said the situation for the restaurant industry hasn’t gotten much worse in the past two years, but he encourages customers to explore new restaurants.

“Get out of your comfort zone, go out to restaurants you’ve never been to, try them and see what you think,” he said. “There are a good amount of really cool restaurants in the Triangle and they are building new ones every day.

The post-pandemic future of Triangle Restaurant Week is also up in the air, Butler said. While dwindling restaurant participation has allowed new restaurants to participate, other restaurants have had to adapt to COVID-19 by offering other options like outdoor dining.

“Over the past year and a half, two years, restaurants have been in a tough spot,” Butler said. “This event is just a reminder to the community that restaurants are an important part of our community and are a great place to work and play.”

Watson said Triangle Restaurant Week is a great way for customers to show their support for local businesses.

“It’s a tough time for restaurants, so it’s a good thing to come out and support them in any way you can,” she said.

@jennarupp_

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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