Local restaurateurs have traditionally seen their business slow in March, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that financial bump even more difficult to overcome. But diners will get that extra boost to hang out, starting next week, when Cleveland Independents kicks off its spring Cleveland Restaurant Week.
The semi-annual event, which takes place every March and November, aims to promote the many popular restaurants in the Cleveland area and sends a central message: Eat. Drink. Local – with three-course prix-fixe menus for $36.
This spring’s Cleveland Restaurant Week runs from Monday, March 14 through Friday, March 25, with 33 restaurants located throughout greater Cleveland, downtown, and city neighborhoods, extending into suburbs on the east, west, and and south.
“Cleveland Restaurant Week is the largest dinner promotion sponsored by Cleveland Independents, and it’s a two-week campaign,” says Myra Orenstein, executive director of Cleveland Independents.
The prix fixe menus feature the best of what each restaurant has to offer, Orenstein says, and include favorites like Batuqui, Fahrenheit, Michelangelo’s Italian Restaurant, Pier W and Taste.
Orenstein says one of the main goals of Cleveland Restaurant Week is to combat the growth of big-chain restaurants in the city with local options.
“It was the initial concept of Cleveland Independents, which originally started as Cleveland Originals, which was an umbrella organization for Dine Originals,” says Orenstein.
For the past 16 years, the event has offered local options to diners and to rival other foodie towns across the country.
“The reason we brought it to Cleveland is because every major metro area had a restaurant week and Cleveland didn’t,” says Orenstein. “It was during a time when Cleveland was making inroads into the culinary scene nationally. So to make a statement, we had to do a restaurant week.
Majorca RestaurantThe three-course meals are meant to give a real taste of the restaurant. For example, Fahrenheit in Tremont offers Thai chili calamari with kimchee, miso leaves, and Thai chili dressing for the first course (plus three other options); Kobe beef short ribs with Teriyaki lo-mein noodles, bok choy, roasted mushrooms and ginger in a soy-apple glaze as the second course (with three other options); and chocolate lava cake with strawberry chutney vanilla ice cream, or seasonal sorbet, for the third course.
The offerings are varied and many establishments offer vegetarian options on the menu.
Due to COVID-19, Cleveland Independents has made some changes to how attendees can dine.
“What we’ve decided to do over the last couple of years is expand it so it’s available to take out,” says Orenstein. “We expect we will still see a high number of takeouts, but we believe customers will welcome in-restaurant dining this year.”
Cleveland Independents also sells merchandise for those who want to support Restaurant Week and restaurants. Options include gift cards that can be used at any of the restaurants listed, certificates offering 30% off, and a deck of playing cards in which each card offers $10 off food purchases of $30.