Denver Restaurant Week won't have a week in August in 2012. That's the word from Visit Denver, the convention and visitors' bureau that sponsors the event and held a meeting on July 14 to discuss the future form of the eating orgy that offers $52.80 (for two) meal deals during a span that's no longer a week at all. Over the past seven years, Denver Restaurant Week has grown to two weeks in late February/early March.
That stretch is too much for some restaurants -- and some stuffed diners -- to handle, and many restaurateurs were pushing to split the event into two weeks, one at the end of February and one at another slow time of the year -- ideally, August. But that just isn't going to happen, Visit Denver revealed in a note to restaurateurs last week:
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Denver Restaurant Week 2012
We want to thank all the restaurants that took time to participate in the Denver Restaurant Week (DRW) survey, sent us emails or participated in the DRW meeting on July 14. We greatly appreciate all this feedback as we move forward in continuing the success that DRW has achieved in the past seven years.
Those of you who participated in the meeting know that there is no simple solution that will please everyone regarding the dates and length of DRW. With 303 restaurants participating, there will always be differences of opinion.
Some of the things that we heard from our feedback:
• We heard that staging DRW for two consecutive weeks is a strain on the staff at some restaurants.
• We also heard that some restaurants like the economic boost that comes from two weeks in the winter.
• We heard that the price point is difficult for some restaurants; others felt it was fine.
• We heard that some restaurants would like to stage one week in the winter and one week in the late summer, when they could showcase their outdoor dining.
• We heard from pretty much everyone that it was confusing to either have a DRW where some restaurants participate for one week and some for two weeks, or to have some combination of 10 days.
We had to look at this from many different angles and answer to many different parties.
In the end, we made the tough decision that DRW needs to continue in the late February - early March time frame.
1. DRW is not broken, so there is little reason to fix it. We have seen a steady year-over-year increase every year for seven years in: a. The number of restaurants participating b. The number of meals served c. The number of visitors going to the DRW website d. The number of page views (menus) they look at.
Clearly the late February - early March dates work and are popular with both restaurants and diners.
2. We looked at a number of late summer - early fall options for a second week, however we could not find dates that work for our organization. VISIT DENVER already sponsors three major events at this time: The U.S.A. Pro Cycling Challenge (last week of August), Denver Beer Fest (and the Great American Beer Festival, which fluctuates every year from Sept. to Oct.); and Denver Arts Week (first week in Nov.).
We don't have the resources and it does not make marketing sense for us to sponsor another event within a few weeks of one of these.
Then you must factor in that September and October are the two busiest months for conventions, with August close behind them. We cannot sponsor Denver Restaurant Week at the same time that we have 5,000 to 15,000 convention delegates in town, since it would be impossible for these delegates to get reservations. It also takes away a large number of full-fare diners from restaurants.
There are also other events in this period, Taste of Colorado, Harvest Festival, and others that we would not want to overlap.
When we put all this together, we could not find a consistent seven-day period that would work for us. A fall DRW would have to fluctuate by as much as 2.5 months every year, and we felt that large a fluctuation in dates would hurt the DRW brand and be very confusing to diners.
DRW has achieved great success in low-season winter. Since we are unable to split the event into two separate weeks, the one remaining question is should DRW in winter be two weeks as it has been for the past two years...or revert to one week as it was for the first five years?
We want the restaurants to decide. We will be sending a survey to the restaurants who participated this year with two date options for 2012.
We are, of course, sorry that we can't please everyone in this issue, but we hope that you appreciate that we listened and we tried.
Thank you for your input, and please look for the "one week or two week" survey which should be emailed to you shortly.
Justin Bresler VP, Marketing & Business Development
We'll let you know the results of that survey when they become available. In the meantime, don't bother saving space on the calendar -- or your stomach -- for next August.