This summer, the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce will once again showcase the city’s local restaurants during its second Gainesville Restaurant Week, a 10-day event starting July 25. Restaurant week is designed to combat the slow season and reward locals with discounted prices at their favorite restaurants while also giving them an opportunity to try new ones.
“We are always seeking feedback from our member businesses to figure out how best to support our local business community, and Gainesville Restaurant Week is a direct result of that,” says Tim Giuliani, president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce & Council for Economic Outreach. “Gainesville Restaurant Week provides residents and visitors the perfect excuse to go out and experience the amazing food culture we have here in Gainesville.”
Last year’s event drew more than 20 restaurants, including three from local restaurateur Bert Gill: Mildred’s Big City Food; New Deal Café; and Blue Gill Quality Food. Hiro Leung, Creative Director of Dragonfly Sushi, says his popular downtown restaurant has also decided to participate.
“Participating in Restaurant Week is about being part of the community,” Leung says. “That’s the most important part. I felt like I was left out last year.”
During the slower summer months, it is essential for restaurants to not only get their regular customers through the door, but to attract new customers and build their fan base. Gainesville Restaurant Week does exactly that.
“We absolutely had great volume that week that we didn’t normally have,” Gill says. “Our projections were ahead for that week. We had new people, and we had our regular people. It’s fun for our regular customers.”
Which, in turn, helps promote Gainesville’s food culture.
“I believe that having a healthy independent restaurant segment is vital to our local economy,” Gill says. “If we look at communities with food cultures, they all have vibrant local food communities. With Restaurant Week, we were introducing new people, and it was a great community effort. I want to have a vibrant community here in Gainesville, and I want our fellow restaurants to succeed as well. Restaurant Week helps to make that happen.”
Dragonfly has a sister restaurant in Orlando, where it has participated in restaurant month. The experience has left Leung with high expectations for restaurant week.
“It’s going to be great,” he says. “The guests are going to feel that when they leave the restaurant they got more than what they came in for, and we exceeded their expectations. We are focused on giving back, and they will leave with a smile; and if not, they can call me.”
Says Gill: “Participating in Restaurant Week is a no-brainer. It’s fun. It’s a great opportunity to reach people with a value.”