Organizers say Lawrence Restaurant Week will return for a second year

Monday, September 22, 2014

The first Lawrence Restaurant Week went well enough that organizers say they “definitely” want to repeat it next year.

“We’re just thrilled,” said Sally Zogry, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., which organized the event. “It was just so well received.”

Nineteen downtown restaurants participated in Restaurant Week, which ran Sept. 14 through Saturday. In keeping with larger-city restaurant weeks that inspired the event, most offered a special prix-fixe menu for which diners paid a set price for a multicourse meal.

Zogry said the public was engaged, and many shared their dining experiences online via social media. As hoped, she said, she heard of a number of people going out more than once during the week.

“That’s what we wanted because we do have the wide range of pricing and offerings,” she said.

And most restaurants were pleased with the response, she said. Milton's, for example, enjoyed a packed patio during the week, which corresponded with the restaurant announcing its new dinner menu.

Zogry said 715 reported it had dozens of diners ordering its Restaurant Week special every night and had to tweak its menu as the week went on because it sold out of certain dishes.

Participating in such an event can be a hassle for restaurants, because they’re adding new dishes and changing their routines, Zogry said. However, she said, it allowed a number of restaurants to gauge diners’ reaction about potential future menu items, and Lawrence will probably see more than one Restaurant Week special on a permanent menu soon.

Zogry said organizers pulled the first Restaurant Week together in a fairly short amount of time. Looking ahead, she said, next year’s event could benefit from getting an earlier start on planning and promoting.

She said the possibility is there for Downtown Lawrence Inc. to include restaurants beyond downtown in the event.

“Eventually we’d like to expand it,” she said.