Center City’s Restaurant Week is in full swing once again. For the past twelve years, restaurant week has offered customers discounted prices at select Center City restaurants. The event now takes place four weeks out of the year: two weeks in September and two weeks in January.
This year, restaurant-goers are promised a three-course lunch for $20 and a three-course dinner for $35. Some participating restaurants have even added a fourth course to stand out from the over one hundred twenty restaurants participating in the weeklong occasion. Select items from the usual menu are available for these reduced-rate meals.
As you can imagine the weeklong specials are a big hit with Philadelphians, and college students are no exception.
“You know, as a college kid we’re always trying to save money, and I think restaurant week is the perfect opportunity for us to do that while still having a good time,” junior Mike Rodriguez said.
According to the Center City District website participating restaurants’ three-course meals must have a $55 or more value to be included in Restaurant Week. The Center City District requires all restaurants to submit their proposed menus along with a $200 participation fee, then after a committee approves the menu and its value the restaurant is included on the official event list.
“Restaurant Week kind of gives you an excuse to get off campus and see the city. We can finally eat some real food and get out and experience Philly,” said sophomore Jeremy Tremblay.
While the attraction is obvious for patrons how do those who work behind the kitchen lines feel about Restaurant Week?
Tanya Hubbard, a student at Temple who also works as a waitress at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Budakkan, doesn’t think Restaurant Week is as good of a deal for those working it.
“It’s a lot longer hours and it is busier but for less money,” Hubbard said.
How much less money?
“Let’s say that you’re running around for six and a half hours consistently on a normal Saturday or Friday where it’s not restaurant week you’re total sales would be $3,500 where as restaurant week we only get about $1,200.”
Hubbard thinks it would be in Philadelphia’s best interest to reduce the amount of Restaurant Weeks in a year.
“I would be totally fine with Restaurant Week if it was one week a year or maybe two. I think [that] would also prompt a better crowd of people to come out, but for weeks out of the year being restaurant week I just think it’s a little much because I don’t think it makes it as exclusive or as cool.”
Center City District most likely has no plans to cut back on Restaurant Week yet as they estimate that the event attracts 175,000 diners and generates $10 million in sales every year. According to TD Bank, one of Restaurant Week’s sponsors, the event generates millions more as diners spend their money around Philadelphia after they’re done eating.
“From a server’s perspective it’s not the most lucrative, but from a customer’s perspective it’s a great experience.” Hubbard adds, “I get to try new restaurants that I might not normally be able to afford.”