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May 15, 2013

Restaurant Week draws more than 1,000 to local eateries

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

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Robert Bihler serves up dessert to Paul and Renee Schreibman, and Freddie and Alan Harvith, two West Bloomfield couples who sampled Southfield’s Pizzeria Biga for the first-ever Southfield Restaurant Week.
Chefs prepare pizzas at Pizzeria Biga for the inaugural Southfield Restaurant Week in April.
 

SOUTHFIELD — Political consultant Jenny Suidan works in an office based in Southfield and knows the 9-5 feel of the city well.

As for sticking around after hours, the 28-year-old White Lake resident isn’t really a “regular.”

This year, when Southfield introduced its first-ever Restaurant Week, though, she sampled two new eateries and was pleasantly surprised, she said.

“I think Southfield has a lot going on, especially during the daytime hours, but it was nice to see the evening around here and restaurants showcased,” Suidan explained, adding that she went with friends to Pizzeria Biga on Tuesday and Gastronomy on Wednesday. “I’m from a family of restaurant owners, and I think that Restaurant Week is a really effective way to get people to places they wouldn’t normally go to.”

Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Tanya Markos-Vanno said that the whole idea behind Southfield Restaurant Week was to attract people to dine in Southfield.

With more than 1,000 participants charted, it was a hit, she added.

“I would say that it was very successful. Most of our restaurants certainly saw an increase in patrons, and that was our goal: to get folks in their establishments after 5 p.m.,” she said. “The big numbers were seen at Beans & Cornbread, Bacco (Ristorante) and Pizzeria Biga; all three saw over 200 guests that week.”

That’s about a 20 percent hike in diners for the restaurants, she added.

While Bacco and Pizzeria Biga, both owned by chef Luciano del Signore, are fairly popular restaurants year-round (with the former recognized as Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press and the latter recognized by the James Beard Foundation), newcomers like Gastronomy benefitted greatly from increased marketing — another one of the goals of Restaurant Week, Markos-Vanno explained.

“We did a great job marketing (the chamber) and the restaurants,” she added.

Suidan said the most memorable part for her was a delicious appetizer at Gastronomy, though she added that she’d return to both Southfield eateries in the future.

On the planning side, Markos-Vanno said there will be a 2014 Southfield Restaurant Week next spring, but they’ll be making some changes. This year’s culinary showcase accidentally coincided with Detroit Restaurant Week, she noted.

“We need to do a little more research and maybe plan a little further in advance next year to get more participation,” she said, adding that Meriwether’s seafood restaurant is one menu they hope to bring on board next year.

This year, the six-day showcase included eight dining options, with meals ranging from $15-$33: Tango’s, inside the Westin Southfield; Gastronomy; Bacco Ristorante; Pizzeria Biga; Franklin Street Grill at Embassy Suites; McVee’s Bar and Grille; Beans & Cornbread; and Skyline Club.

The date for the second Southfield Restaurant Week has not been set yet, but Markos-Vanno anticipates it being set between March and May.

For more information about the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce or its events, visit www.southfieldchamber.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.