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VOL. 128 | NO. 201 | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Downtown Dining

Annual restaurant week adds lunch to mix

By Andy Meek

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They’re one of the most distinctive features of Downtown Memphis. They’ve been the subject of national TV broadcasts, some of them are can’t-miss spots for tourists and the South Main neighborhood alone has more than 20 of them.

A number of Downtown restaurants, including the Brass Door on Madison Avenue, will participate in the fourth Downtown Dining Week, Nov. 17 to Nov. 23.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

They’re the eateries that make up Downtown’s restaurant community, and for one week next month the Downtown Memphis Commission will host a drive to get diners to pick at least one of them and pull up a chair.

The fourth annual Downtown Dining Week will be celebrated Nov. 17 through Nov. 23. This year, for the first time, participating restaurants will be adding a lunch menu for Downtown Dining Week, and the set prices for the lunch and dinner menus for the week are $10.13 and $20.13, respectively.

“We had a lot of restaurants who said they couldn’t participate before because they’re lunch only, so they requested that we add the lunch aspect to it,” said Leslie Gower, vice president of marketing and communications for the Downtown Memphis Commission. “You’ll be able to now get special lunches for $10.13, and those will likely include some two-for-one options.”

There will be special menus at participating restaurants, and not all of them will offer both meals. Some of them will offer Downtown Dining Week participants just lunch, others just dinner. For anyone who wants to know before venturing out to one of the eateries, Gower said the Downtown Dining Week website, www.downtowndiningweek.com, will include the menus each restaurant prepares.

Seamus Loftus, managing partner of The Brass Door, said the initiative’s week-long push to shine a spotlight on restaurants like his – which is participating in the initiative – helps restaurants score some much-appreciated visibility.

“A lot of people from out East will visit Downtown that week, and it’s a good chance to get on their radar,” Loftus said. “And even customers who are Downtown, this is a chance to get them to take a new look at you. So it’s exciting for us to be part of it, and because it’s a set price people know what they’re getting. It works out well for everybody.”

The initiative was born out of a chat at the Downtown Farmers Market between The Majestic Grille co-owners and Felicia Willett of Felicia Suzanne’s. Willett mentioned that she’d been talking to a friend with a restaurant in another city that had created a successful event along the lines of New York’s famed Restaurant Week, and Gower said the idea grew from there.

The outcome of that chat was a push to showcase the individuality of a large group of Downtown restaurants and to grow business for the entire Downtown dining market.

“We came in to help organize the event,” Gower said. “The whole idea was to get people into restaurants at an affordable price who might want to try it. Also to position Downtown as a dining destination, since some people don’t realize we have more than 100 restaurants Downtown.”

Participating restaurants run the gamut from Aldo’s Pizza Pies, to Automatic Slim’s, Bardog Tavern, Lunchbox Eats, Paulette’s and the Majestic Grille. The initiative’s website includes the full list of restaurants, 32 in all, and the special menus will be unveiled Oct. 20.

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