BUFFALO, NY – Local Restaurant Weeks have taken off across the country, but none as popular as in Western New York.
The next "Restaurant Week" in Buffalo will run from Monday March 28th through Sunday April 3dd.
The Restaurant week webiste reports It would be hard to find a region more successful than Western New York, where the promotion has exploded from 60 operators in Spring 2009 to almost 200 this past October.
Based on the number of participating restaurants, Buffalo ranks first
among markets of comparable size. What’s most valuable for the local independent restaurants, however, is the promotion’s lasting economic impact: not only does it increase sales, it also attracts new patrons, and often turns them into regulars.
“It’s great for us,” raves Mike Andrzejewski of Seabar. “Every time we’ve participated, it’s been a record-setting week.”
Even more important, he continues, is that with each event “we’ve gained a bunch of new regular customers. People come back again and again, and it’s usually people who would not have come here.”
Dan Garvey, manager of the Roycroft Inn, agrees. “I can easily say it
doubled our business for that week. But,” he asserts, “the biggest result is that we attract a lot of people to Roycroft who have never been here. And we’ve had a lot of people come back since.”
Many vendors reported boosting their sales to participating restaurants by 35 percent to 50 percent. Better still, because so many of these local independents patronize local farmers, distributors and other suppliers, those dollars stay in the community. In fact, the American Independent Business Alliance estimates that money spent with independent restaurants re-circulates at a rate five times greater than that of chain restaurants.
Although Andrzejewski introduced the Local Restaurant Week concept to Buffalo, it’s the team at LocalFoodService.com – led by Vince McConeghy and Jennifer Lingenfelter – that has steered its success. “We put together a loose plan,” recalls McConeghy, who worked with Peter Longo, president of the Western New York Chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and Garvey, who is a director of the association, as well as Andrzejewski.
McConeghy and Lingenfelter created a professional – but lean and nimble – organizational structure and quickly mobilized the local foodservice community.
Their parent company, Food Service Enablers, developed the
unique technology platform that supports the Local Restaurant Week
McConeghy observes. “But it’s not about the discounts,” he continues. “It’s about the opportunity to go to places you wouldn’t normally go to. One of the biggest functions of Local Restaurant Week is to provide that opportunity. People get excited about it and want to support it.”
Accessible website and “level playing field” are strategic keys
Organizers believe their website is a key part of their success. Active McConeghy believes the wholehearted commitment of sponsors enhances the promotion’s success.
“These are people who are invested not only in food service in Western New York, but also in making this a great
place to live,” he points out. “They recognize the value of independent restaurants and how much they enhance our culture and quality of life.” Sponsors include Sysco, Lactalis, Citadel Broadcasting, WKBW-TV, and the New York State Restaurant Association’s Western New York Chapter.
“All of us at Sysco Syracuse are pleased to have been the title sponsor,” concludes Michael Scanlon, that company’s president. “This event was a great success for our local independent restaurateurs.”