Photo by Matt Stensland
Zabel family members, from left, Taylor, 12, Glen, Bailey, 10, and Connie share a laugh after dinner Tuesday at Cantina Mexican Restaurant. The restaurant's owner, Kristi Brown, said business was up last week, which was the inaugural Steamboat Springs Restaurant Week, compared to the year before.
Steamboat Springs Restaurants picked up varied vibes during Steamboat Springs Restaurant Week.
Fourteen restaurants participated in the May 18 to 24 event, put on by Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. They offered specials such as three-course dinners at a set price. Mainstreet hopes to hold the week during the spring and fall off-seasons, organizers said. Several restaurant owners said they expected the event to gain steam the next time around.
Marco Pauvert, owner of the Epicurean Cafe, said his customers were pleased with the specials, which consisted of several three-course dinners for $25 each. Entrees included Chilean sea bass, Pauvert said.
"These plates are usually $45, so that was a very good deal," he said. "People were very happy."
The Epicurean saw solid weekday traffic but a slow weekend, Pauvert said. He suggested offering the specials one week a month for spring and fall.
"It was the first one, so I think the next one we're going to be better organized," Pauvert said.
Rex Brice runs Rex's American Grill & Bar, Mazzola's Italian Restaurant and Big House Burgers. Mazzola's participated in Restaurant Week, offering a meal deal, a calzone meal and specialty pizzas with options for half bottles of wine.
"I'm not certain that a ton of people came out for it, but I'm very optimistic about that program," Brice said. "And maintaining it over time, it'll gain traction."
Mazzola's plans to continue its specialty pizza and wine promotion, he said.
Cantina owner Kristi Brown was enthusiastic about the outcome. The Mexican restaurant offered two-course lunch specials and two- and three-course dinner specials.
"People are definitely more aware of prices these days, of course, with the economy," Brown said. "Especially the local population seemed to appreciate the chance to go out to lunch or go out to dinner and get a good deal."
Her numbers back up her assessment.
"We were up the whole week," Brown said. "Every day of the week we were up compared to last year, which is certainly a divergence from the trends. : It was certainly a success."
Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said Tuesday morning that she hadn't yet checked in with restaurants. Anecdotally, she heard from friends who went out for the specials.
"I had a lady call me from Utah," Barnett said. "She had seen it on the Pilot Web site, and she called me as they left Utah to find out what restaurants were having specials."
Steamboat Smokehouse participated in the inaugural event with daily specials. Owner Fritz Aurin said customers' reactions varied.
"I would say the response was hot and cold," Aurin said. "It was kind of typical of the current business, with pops here and there. I think it probably had a lot to do with what we advertised."
He said he would participate again.
"I thought that it was a worthy effort by Mainstreet, and I hope that we do more stuff like that," Aurin said. "Even if on a performance basis we didn't see as much as we'd have liked to see this week, I think it was a great idea."
Barnett was optimistic the event would grow.
"It was put together kind of quickly this time," she said.
Mainstreet member Mike Lang, owner of Harwigs/L'Apogee, organized much of the week. Mainstreet hasn't set dates for the fall Restaurant Week but expects to plan it for October or November, Barnett said.
"To get people out spending some money, everybody needs a little push now and then," she said. "And sometimes you need to be reminded."
- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com