NYC Restaurant Week, a biannual promotion where restaurants offer special three-course prefixed menus, runs until August 10. Though it’s a citywide event, out of over 300 restaurants participating, only three are not in Manhattan. Two are in Brooklyn, and one, Water’s Edge Restaurant, is in Long Island City.
Since 2004, Queens has held a similar promotion, Discover Queens Restaurant Week, that takes place in early fall. “Restaurants are probably just happy with [our restaurant week] and that’s enough,” said Robert Mackay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
NYC Restaurant Week feels more Manhattan centric, he added, and people are unlikely to travel from Manhattan to eat in Queens.
Mackay also feels it’s set to Manhattan prices. Discover Queens Restaurant Week’s suggested fixed price is $25 for lunch or dinner. NYC Restaurant Week’s required fixed prices are $24.07 for lunch and $35 for dinner. During Queens Restaurant Week, participants can also offer their own special promotions.
Another price difference between the two is the fee restaurants must pay to take part. This fee is the main reason that Testaccio, an Italian restaurant in Long Island City, no longer participates in NYC Restaurant Week, said manager David Green. Testaccio took part during both the winter and summer citywide Restaurant Weeks in 2010 and 2011.
“I didn’t see the return at all,” said Green. According to him, Testaccio paid $2,500 each time it participated in NYC Restaurant Week. Testaccio didn’t have enough customers during the promotion, or enough first-time customers that came back to justify the fee.
In 2010 Testaccio also started participating in Queens Restaurant Week. It plans on continuing to take part in it, said Green. He’s comfortable with its fee, and feels that the advertising for Queens Restaurant Week, which the fee helps pay for, is a better value than the advertising his restaurant receives during the citywide promotion.
NYC Restaurant Week targets all the city’s boroughs and its visitors, and with adverting, reaches a wide net of people across the city, said Kelly Curtin, senior vice president of membership and destination services for NYC & Company, which manages the promotion. “We would love to have more restaurants in the other boroughs participate,“ she said.
When NYC Restaurant Week started in 1992, lunch was $19.92. In 2002, dinner was added and cost $30.02. The current prices have stayed the same since 2006.
Water’s Edge Restaurant, the only restaurant in Queens that participates in NYC Restaurant Week, is happy with those prices. “It’s a nice promotion. It definitely gives the restaurant revenue,” said general manager Abhi Mukherjee.
During the promotion, the average amount spent per person decreases but revenue increases because of customer volume, said Mukherjee. About 125 to 150 more people come to the restaurant, many of which are from Manhattan. “It’s a tool for building your clientele,” he said.
Water’s Edge doesn’t take part in Queens Restaurant Week because it could lose revenue by charging only $25 for a three-course dinner.