Business, Events

Eat it up, Detroit — Restaurant Week was a delicious success

Detroit foodies, raise your proverbial sporks in celebration. You now have 36,046 additional kindred.

That is how many people got their eat on during Detroit Restaurant Week this past September and October, which organizers are saying is the largest participation for the fall ever. Let the numbers speak for themselves: it was an 18.4 percent increase over last year. And that, my hungry readers, is statistically significant.

This has been a banner time in some ways for the Detroit area and its food. Zagat recently included the Lark in its 2012 “America’s Top Restaurants” guide. And I’m still feeling pretty proud of the job Supino Pizzeria did on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which aired Monday. It’s not easy accepting all of this love.

So back to DRW. For an event that is only two years old – really, it was created in 2009 – Detroit Restaurant Week feels like it’s always been a grand, old tradition. Over its first five campaigns, some 158,000 people have braved the freeway (a few walked or biked, I’m sure) to enjoy the finest cuisine our dear city has to offer.

Here are 21 restaurants, all willing to serve a three-course meal for the mere price of $28 pp. They took a 10-day deal and made it memorable, delicious and defining. Yes, having that many folks crowd into the city for anything is significant, especially when it had nothing to do with pigskin or a dugout.

My new best friend, Dana Boyette of Paxahau Event Productions, told me Wednesday that the five DRW iterations have generated a minimum of $2.78 million in sales for city businesses of all kinds. The restaurants make up the majority of that total…so you know the valets, the after-glow bars and the like all had an uptick as well. (As an aside, Paxahau produces DRW, the Detroit Jazz Festival and Movement Electronic Music Festival. And, dearest Dana, I will stop stalking you for the numbers now. I promise.)

Boyette said they track total restaurant diners and how many order from the DRW menu at its 21 participating restaurants during the promotion time frame. So that $$ total truly represent how many people the event brought in beyond regular famished folk. The $2.77 million number is generated by multiplying 100,000 people (who ordered from the DRW menu) by cost per person for each meal over the past five campaigns.

“It doesn’t include additional items people could have ordered (some restaurants offer the DRW menu and their regular menu, so a table could theoretically order a couple of extra non-DRW appetizers, or a bottle of wine, cocktails, etc.) so the ‘real’ impact of DRW is very, very likely much higher,” Boyette said via email. “In the future, we may work on a more broad economic impact measure, but this is what we have for now.”

I had the pleasure of eating at two of the DRW hot spots. Yes, I’m that cool even thought I live in the flat suburbs. The service was sublime – our wait staff was pleased to go over the DRW menus in detail. I especially remember the waitress at Saltwater inside MGM Grand, who seemed genuinely proud of the food they were offering, and the bartender there was happy to offer tasty partnerships in adult beverages. (Cheers to him for pouring some mighty nice martinis. I tweeted all about it…You can relive my magical moments here.)

I love the partnership that the Week creates. I got to hang out with one of my fellow Unspun vixen, Vanessa Denha Garmo. I enjoyed a meal sans kids with my husband. I relished the conversations with friends who also got out there to try something new.

And look at all the people who put this thing together! Sponsors included Downtown Detroit Partnership, Quicken Loans, OpenTable,, Paxahau Dick Huvaere’s Richmond Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Gothic Wine. Media of all stripes actually agreed to work together, including my faves such as Metro Times,, WJBK Detroit Fox 2,, The Hungry Dudes, WDET 101.9 FM, Destination313, Between The Lines, Model D,,,, The B.L.A.C,, Metro Parent and Metromode. Not to leave anyone out, I’ll add the community partners: City Living Detroit and the Detroit Metro Conventions & Visitors Bureau.

Missed out? Too bad. Get on the stick, people. Just kidding. There will be another one. For those who like to plan ahead, the good people at Detroit Restaurant Week haven’t set the spring dates yet. However, Jason Huvaere, director of Detroit Restaurant Week, says people should keep an eye on the website, Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information. Or whatever other new social media pops up before then.

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