This week, more than 70 restaurants in central Ohio will feed the hungry in more ways than one.
The restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week: Columbus, a weeklong event put on by “(614) Magazine” to offer discounted meals from local establishments while also supporting the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
Monday through Saturday, each participating restaurant will feature a fixed-price menu containing options for a three-course meal, with prices ranging from $15 to $35. While regular menu items are still offered, the fixed-price meals cost less than the restaurants’ everyday meals, providing an inexpensive way to taste a wide variety of dishes.
“The main goal of the event is to get people to dine out and eat locally,” said Lindsay Arnett, director of operations for 614 Media Group. “It’s a great week for people to try dishes they’ve been meaning to try.”
Beyond giving diners new opportunities, the event will also donate $5,000 to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, a local hunger-relief organization, on behalf of participating restaurants, sponsors and diners.
The charity works with various people and organizations to distribute food to more than 550 locations across central and eastern Ohio, according to its website.
Colin Baumgartner, director of communications for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, said every dollar in donations equals $8 worth of groceries for those in need.
“I think it’s just one of these situations that’s a win-win for everybody involved,” Baumgartner said. “I don’t really see a downside to any of it.”
Allissa Stevens, a third-year in speech and hearing science, said the collaboration is a great way to benefit people across Columbus.
“It helps a cause, and then the whole perk of getting a discounted meal, of course, is nice,” Stevens said.
For those who enter the event’s online FoodQuest contest, one person will win a prize valued at $1,000, including a $250 gift card to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a $250 gift card to WholeFoods Market and dinner for four at five of the participating restaurants. Dinner for two at a participating restaurant will also be awarded to 25 contestants throughout the week.
Restaurant Week: Columbus is in its fourth year and eighth installment. “(614) Magazine” holds the event each July and January, when Arnett says businesses tend to see less traffic.
Since its first installment in July 2009, Restaurant Week: Columbus has contributed more than $30,000 to Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “(614) Magazine” will present the donation from this week’s installment to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in February during a volunteer shift at the charity’s facility.
“I think that’s a great idea just to help out, and then what perk they’re giving will hopefully draw in a lot of people to join in,” Stevens said.
Baumgartner said that, for many restaurants, the support for Mid-Ohio Foodbank doesn’t stop with Restaurant Week.
“Many of the restaurants that have been participating are also Foodbank supporters that do other things throughout the year,” Baumgartner said. “As an organization that relies so much on the community for that support, it’s great to have Restaurant Week.”
Sushi Rock, a restaurant offering $25 three-course meals for the event, has had positive results from participating in past years. Scott Buttari, corporate chef for Sushi Rock, said participating has helped get “the word out there that we offer more than just sushi at Sushi Rock.”
Past events have brought in more than 87,000 diners – a number “(614) Magazine” hopes to maintain this time around.
“We’re looking to match that, if not do better,” Arnett said.
For this installment, Arnett said new restaurants have been added to the list of participants, including downtown Columbus’ Gallerie Bar and Bistro (a $35 meal), Dublin’s 101 Beer Kitchen (a $20 meal) and Giammarco’s in Westerville (a $25 meal).
A list of all participating restaurants can be found on Restaurant Week: Columbus’ website, along with the hours for which each fixed-price menu is offered.
According to the website, reservations are strongly encouraged.