Madison Heights begins monthly restaurant promos

Initiative takes ‘Around the Globe in Madison Heights’ on the road

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 14, 2015

 Alex Nguyen, co-owner of Thang Long in Madison Heights, stands in front of his restaurant with children Vanessa, 10, and Derek, 4. Thang Long is one of the Vietnamese restaurants being highlighted by the city as part of its monthly “Around the Globe in Madison Heights” promotion. The restaurant will offer 10 percent off various dishes all month in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Alex Nguyen, co-owner of Thang Long in Madison Heights, stands in front of his restaurant with children Vanessa, 10, and Derek, 4. Thang Long is one of the Vietnamese restaurants being highlighted by the city as part of its monthly “Around the Globe in Madison Heights” promotion. The restaurant will offer 10 percent off various dishes all month in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The “Around the Globe in Madison Heights” Taste Festival and Cultural Show is one of the most popular events in the city. However, it will not be held this year.

In its place, the city is trying something different. It’ll still be called “Around the Globe in Madison Heights,” but rather than being one event at Wilkinson Middle School, it’ll be a series of promotions that highlight a different culture’s cuisine each month.

For July, the theme is Vietnamese food. At press time, the full list of venues was still being finalized, but one of the participating restaurants is Thang Long. Co-owner Alex Nguyen said that guests can get 10 percent off select meals by mentioning “Around the Globe in Madison Heights.” The deal is applicable in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, all through July.

“Madison Heights has a lot of ethnic food. I think this (promotion) helps to show what the city has to offer,” Nguyen said. “Vietnamese food is fresh. What’s interesting is there is French influence, from when (the French) colonized Vietnam. There’s Western appeal, but the authentic Vietnamese appeal is still there. The cooking and ingredients mix well; it made the food taste so different. The taste brought two worlds together. People love it.”

July will highlight Vietnamese food, and August will highlight the many Middle Eastern restaurants in the city. Madison Heights has many different cultures, something that was celebrated under one roof with the original Taste Festival. But according to Linda Williams, the city’s economic and community engagement supervisor, vendor fatigue and other concerns made the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) rethink the event.

“The DDA started with two big events: the Art Challenge in the spring, and the Taste Festival in the fall. That was a bit too much, so we combined the two events and focused on the Taste Festival. But between our Taste Festival and all of the other festivals and civic events these restaurants attend, they were feeling fatigue from participation,” Williams said.

“Our event, specifically, got to be challenging,” she added. “In November, a lot of vendors are busy gearing up for the holiday season, so there is limited staff they can send to festivals. And then there’s a lot of prep work that goes into participation. So staff and resources were the challenge.”

In recent years, the Taste Festival had been funded entirely through private sponsorships, with the food vendors volunteering their time. With the vendors feeling tired, Williams sought other ways to keep the momentum going.

She said the Taste Festival may return someday, but for now they’re trying the monthly promotions as a way to drive people toward new restaurants and cuisines they might not have tried before.

“We’re encouraging people to patronize the local businesses,” Williams said. “This promotion allows us to continue that and maybe take it to a new level, reaching new audiences by social media, bringing the restaurants to the people instead of bringing the people to one place. It’s like a Restaurant Week where they offer discounts or coupons for people to try something new.”

Williams also wants to make it educational. Her staff will be visiting the different restaurants, taking pictures of their signature dishes and collecting information to help educate people about what makes each cuisine so special.

It’s an experimental new take on a popular concept, one that will continue to evolve.

“It’s the pilot year, you could say,” Williams said. “We’ll see what is positively received. I have no doubt it will be.”

To stay up to date on the latest offers for “Around the Globe in Madison Heights,” follow the city’s Facebook page by searching “City of Madison Heights.”

Thang Long is located at 27641 John R in Madison Heights.

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