“There have been a lot of discussions and articles about the tipping point,” Kathy Hollinger says. “Have we reached our penetration point?” Thrillist summed up the tenor best in a headline from last December: “There’s a Massive Restaurant Industry Bubble, and It’s About to Burst.”
As president and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Hollinger begs to differ, at least in light of the scene she represents. Many leading industry publications fell hard for D.C. last year, designating it the “2016 Restaurant City of the Year” (Bon Appetit) and “Hottest Food City of 2016” (Zagat).
“We still see growth, which is great,” Hollinger says. “The reality is, as we have grown, what is amazing is that we have really preserved that homegrown, independently operated and owned ratio [of] 96 percent. And that is amazing. That is nowhere else in the country.”
As the industry’s official booster, RAMW has played a major role in helping set D.C. apart and, in recent years, has launched specialized promotions expanding its reach, from the Spring Wine Fling and DC Cocktail Week to this year’s first-ever BBQ & Grilling Week.
But it was Restaurant Week that started it all nearly two decades ago. Offered in both winter and summer, the promotion’s general concept remains unchanged: restaurants offer prix-fixe deals generally more affordable than if similar items were ordered a la carte. It’s $22 for multiple courses at lunch and brunch, and $35 at dinner.
What’s new this summer is RAMW’s #DineOutGiveBack campaign, in which the Capital Area Food Bank will receive proceeds raised at nearly 40 restaurants. The list includes Central Michel Richard, Centrolina, Cork, Doi Moi, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Penn Commons, RPM Italian, RIS, and Roofer’s Union.
“Every dollar raised by these restaurants provides two full meals for someone in need,” Hollinger says. “In the nation’s capital, people have a lot of various causes, but I don’t think anyone can deny the cause of combating hunger and making sure food is accessible to all across the region.”
Summer Restaurant Week 2017 starts Monday, Aug. 14, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 20. For more information or to make reservations, visit rwdmv.com.
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