GREEN BAY – In a year in which restaurants have had to deal with one challenge after another, gearing up for Green Bay Restaurant Week could have been just one more thing on their plates.
But when the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau announced in May it wasn’t canceling the eighth annual event held in July, just postponing it until September to give restaurants already reeling from the pandemic more time to plan, the response was overwhelmingly positive, said Brenda Krainik, the bureau’s director of marketing and communications.
“The restaurants were more than excited to have something to look forward to, a good promotion of local business,” she said. “There isn’t a single thing in it for the Convention & Visitors Bureau. We do this all on behalf of our restaurant partners in tourism. They were over the moon that we did not cancel it and that we shifted gears. They really had an all-in type attitude.”
Save room for dessert. The Cookie Sundae is among the Green Bay Restaurant Week options at The Turn in the Titletown District. (Photo: Courtesy of Brenda Krainik)
Green Bay Restaurant Week began Thursday and continues through Sept. 17. The 40 participating restaurants are each offering a special menu of three-course meals at a fixed price. There are $11 lunch and dinner, $22 dinner and $33 dinner options. What is offered where varies with each restaurant, but the idea is to showcase the area’s diverse culinary scene to both local residents and visitors.
The eight-day promotion has become increasingly popular in recent years, with people studying the menus online, mapping out meals for the week and sharing photos of Green Bay Restaurant Week indulgences on social media. The $750,000 economic impact of meals sold the first year in 2013 increased to $2.5 million in 2018 with essentially the same number of participating restaurants.
Green Bay Restaurant Week typically includes about 60 restaurants. The number is down this year, as some establishments had to decline due to staffing issues or other challenges, but they look forward to returning next year, Krainik said.
Even with some changes, she said it feels nice to still be able to serve up an event that has been so embraced by the community.
“There have been so many negative things that have happened or cancellations. Food brings joy and kind of lifts your spirits …” she said. “It’s just a positive thing happening in our community, and we love to be able to share those types of stories and keep things happy this week.”
Whether you’re planning to pull up a chair to dine in or pull up for takeout, here are a few tips for navigating Green Bay Restaurant Week this year.
1. Restaurants are ready, waiting and have worked hard to prepare. Preparation this year was about more than just putting together a tempting menu; it’s about following Brown County Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safety.
“We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable dining,” Krainik said. “We had to really take a look and make sure everyone was in it to win it, with the distancing of the tables, the masking of all the employees, cleaning spaces before and after patrons are in. They’re really paying attention to all of those details above and beyond creating amazing food.”
2. You can do to-go orders at some restaurants. “Green Bay Restaurant Week has always been a dine-in promotion and probably will continue to be that in future years, but we completely recognize that not everybody is ready to dine in and that there are plenty of people out there still in the takeout mode,” Krainik said. “We want to make sure they’re able to participate this year, too.”
About half of the participating restaurants are offering takeout of their GBRW menu. You can easily find them by clicking on the “takeout available” search tab at the top of restaurant listings page at gbrestaurantweek.com. There is an upcharge for takeout orders at many but not all of those restaurants.
“That’s primarily because when you’re building beautiful cuisine you have to be sure that it can travel,” Krainik said. “A burger is going to travel better than a salmon, so there are different types of takeout containers.”
When you place your order, the restaurant can fill you in on any charges.
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Pizza, pastas and sundaes are on the menu at Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream for Green Bay Restaurant Week. (Photo: Courtesy of Brenda Krainik)
3. Outdoor seating is first come, first served. Some of the restaurants require or recommend reservations for indoor seating. That will be noted when you click on each restaurant on the event website. For places that offer outdoor dining, however, patio seating is first come, first served.
“With the unpredictability of weather they’re not going to take a reservation for an outdoor space. They don’t want to double book,” Krainik said. “If you make a reservation (inside) and there’s outdoor dining available, and then if you’re there at the right time, it’s yours.”
4. Generous tips are appreciated, especially this year. “Think about the rough times these restaurants have had, and that’s not just the restaurant owners, that’s all of their employees,” Krainik said.
With restaurants closed completely to indoor dining during the shutdown and now operating at reduced capacity, servers have lost out on tips they depend on. Also consider that the $33 three-course dinner you’re getting at a discount during GBRW may cost more like $50 or $60 any other time, which would mean a bigger tip for your server.
“They’re out there ready to be as helpful and hospitable as they can during the dining service, and they’re working really hard to make sure everybody has a great experience inside the restaurant,” Krainik said.
5. It’s a really good time to tell a restaurant how much you appreciate them. The pandemic has offered a new appreciation for a community rich with local restaurants. They could all use some love right now.
“The best way you can do that is post your pictures online and give them a great review,” Krainik said. Positive reviews on Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor, whether about how delicious that decadent dessert was or how safe and comfortable the setting made you feel, go a long way, she said.
Use the hashtag #GBEatWeek for posting photos on social media, so the Convention & Visitors Bureau can share them on its Facebook page and other social channels.
Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.
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