Market Basket : Restaurant Week is here
More than 1,500 area diners visit Cafe Navarre every week, and soon, even more customers will be walking through the doors of the year-old downtown South Bend restaurant.
For a biannual event that started in 2011 and is now offered during the summer and winter.
The promotion actually runs two weeks so it can include two weekends of dining deals.
Since its inception, the sponsoring Downtown Dining Alliance, a collection of business owners and foodies who promote locally owned and independent restaurants, has touted the event as a time to dine local.
"These events are absolutely worth it," Kurt Janowsky, owner of Cafe Navarre, says, explaining how they promote the downtown culinary scene.
"It gives us the opportunity to market all of the downtown restaurants to people who don't always come down here to dine," Janowsky says. "It shows we offer something a little different from where they might go now on chain row."
Many diners agree.
In fact, restaurateurs recommend diners call ahead during Restaurant Week to ensure a table is available and reserved for your group.
"I'm not a fan of chain restaurants, so I usually frequent these places regardless," Lisa Blouin, of South Bend, posted on Facebook.
Jenn Nyikos, also of South Bend, admitted she has not tried the downtown restaurants "because I've heard they are too expensive."
Kelsey Leigh also has heard prices scare some diners away from downtown.
"I would love to have something like tastings, or samples of dishes from various upscale restaurants," the South Bend diner posts.
Jennifer Hren enjoys being able to support local businesses and is drawn to discounts and specials. "It has definitely been a big draw in attracting my husband and me to downtown South Bend dining."
A few changes have taken place since Restaurant Week started, in case you have not participated in a while. Or if this is your first time.
The dinner prices have increased, while the number of restaurants has decreased.
Sixteen restaurants participated when the promotion started two years ago. Those restaurants offered two dinners or a three-course dinner for $25, and some offered lunch specials.
Now, only 11 downtown restaurants are taking part, and dinner for two costs $30. Lunch specials generally promote two for $15 at some downtown venues, and LePeep even offers breakfast.