Restaurant Week kicks off today, but at least a dozen restaurants are delaying the promotion as they recover from this weekend’s blizzard.
Some of those restaurants, including Kaz Sushi Bistro, Boss Shepherd’s, and Restaurant Eve, are still closed because of the snow. Clyde’s Restaurant Group eateries—Clyde’s of Georgetown, Old Ebbitt Grill, and The Hamilton—are among those that are open today but don’t plan to start Restaurant Week until tomorrow. The promotion includes three courses for $22 at lunch and $35 at dinner through Jan. 31.
“Without the deliveries, we just don’t have product in,” explains Clyde’s Director of Communications Molly Quigley. She was working with the chef at Clyde’s of Georgetown this morning to see if there was anything they could change on the Restaurant Week menu to make it happen. “We’ve got lots of soup and wings and chili and stew, but not anything available that would make the Restaurant Week value,” she says.
Quigley says staff shortages are not a factor in delaying Restaurant Week. The number of employees who can make it in should be about as many as they need.
On the flip side, 1789 Restaurant, another Clyde’s Restaurant Group property, will start Restaurant Week today. Quigley says it helped that the restaurant was closed over the weekend so didn’t run out of food, and some of the menu items take 36 hours to braise, so they were already in stock. “The executive chef has been at the restaurant all weekend. They never left. The general manager was sleeping on an air mattress in front of the fireplace,” Quigley says.
Meanwhile, Ashok Bajaj, owner of 701, Bibiana, Bombay Club, Rasika, and others, says deliveries are delayed but not enough that it will affect service. He’s more concerned about people showing up, at least at the start of this week.
“We’ve already seen a lot of cancellations for today,” he says. “I would say lunchtime is 50 percent off, and I can tell a lot of people who have not cancelled, some of them are not even going to show up.” Federal government closures always tend to have a negative impact on his restaurants, most of which are located downtown, Bajaj says. He anticipates things won’t pick up until Wednesday.
Bajaj says some of his restaurants may extend the promotion into next week. In fact, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington is also considering officially extending Restaurant Week. President Kathy Hollinger expects to make a decision on that by Wednesday.
At Del Campo, chef and owner Victor Albisu says, Restaurant Week has likewise gotten off to a slower-than-average start. Lunch business, for example, is about half of what it normally would be during Restaurant Week. “There’s still a bit of a hangover from the snow,” he says, but he anticipates it will get back to normal as the week goes on. “Especially after a weekend indoors, I think everybody’s itching to go out and go through with their plans for the week.”
1905 Bistro & Bar owner Tony Lucca also says he has fewer Restaurant Week reservations than usual, but he’s not sure if that’s because of the snow or some other factor. In Shaw and Bloomingdale, he’s noticed people already out in droves. He wonders if there could be the opposite of cabin fever in his neighborhood: “I don’t know how much people are burned out from the partying. The fun of it all has now worn off, and probably to some degree, people are ready to get back to work. How much of their upcoming week plans were jammed into the past two or three days, and now they all just want to go to bed and rest? I don’t know.”
For those who don’t plan to venture out, RAMW is introducing a new promotion with UberEats this year, delivering entrees on Restaurant Week menus. That promotion is also being delayed until Tuesday as UberEats has suspended service today.
“We think, if anything, more people will probably participate in that UberEats promo,” says Hollinger of the effects of the snow.
Restaurant Week typically provides restaurants with a much-needed bump in business during slower months of the year. As for whether that will still be the case this January, opinions are mixed, although mostly optimistic.
“Our numbers always show that it’s still a great economic driver for the economy and for the region, and we think it’s falling right in the perfect week when business is slow,” Hollinger says. She and others are banking on the fact that people have been cooped up for the past few days and will want to get out.
Bajaj is a little more skeptical. “This will be not a good month for a lot of us,” he says. “This will be a month not to remember.”