January 2010

A Menu of Great Dining Options as Chamber Restaurant Week Returns

Author: Laura Aguiar

Last year’s inaugural Chamber Restaurant Week was a “first course” in a new tradition that met with delicious success. Area restaurants will be presenting even more great cuisine for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Chamber Restaurant Week, January 23-30.

During Chamber Restaurant Week, when participating restaurants offer specially-priced, or prix fixe, menus, signature dishes, new entrées and old favorites will be offered at reduced prices. Area residents can take advantage and enjoy great meals at a wide range of restaurants while the seasonal crowds are away.

“Bistro 17 had a great response,” said Anna Buckingham, the restaurant’s owner. “Our phone rang off the hook for reservations last year at a time when we could have been empty.”

Executive Chef Russell Keane of WiseGuys said all of the SERG Group restaurants will be participating again this year. “A lot of people were doing $20.09 multi-course dinners to mark the year last year,” said Keane. “I expect that there will be even better deals this year as the economy is still tough. You give up a little bit of profit margin, but it’s better to have a full house than empty seats.”

More than 50 restaurants participated in the inaugural event in January, 2009. From lunch at the neighborhood deli to fine dining on gourmet fare, Restaurant Week offers great deals on a broad range of cuisine.

“Chamber Restaurant Week was a soaring success,” said Buckingham. “The island was abuzz that week–going from being dead to everybody going out!”

Summers are always busy for restaurants on the island. It’s during the winter, when things slow down for the whole island that restaurants can focus on the home crowd. “Chamber Restaurant Week is a chance for us to welcome our locals back with great deals on cuisine,” said Katie Manley, marketing director for Alexander’s, Red Fish and Old Oyster Factory Restaurants. Regular patrons may even find several new selections on the prix fixe menu that have been added especially for Chamber Restaurant Week.

“We’re always trying to offer our customers something new,” said Manley. “We currently have a winter crop at our home farm, so there’s always something fresh from the garden.”

Even when eating out, many people tend to fall into a rut, going to the same place and selecting the same entrée. “If you are a regular at Red Fish, Alexander’s or The Old Oyster Factory, maybe there’s something on the prix fixe menu that you haven’t yet tried,” said Manley.

The best thing about Chamber Restaurant Week is that it’s a win-win for diners and restaurants. The first Chamber Restaurant Week was a success with positive feedback from both residents and participating restaurants.

“Customers told us that the offerings from the restaurants were generous,” said Lisa Bryan, owner of Deli by the Beach. “It gave them a good opportunity to try new places.”

Hosted during the area’s slow season, Lowcountry residents can take advantage of the special meals without worrying about the visiting crowds.

“There was a great show of support from locals,” said Keane. “Everybody understood what it was about. During a troubled economy, residents came out and supported their favorite restaurants.”

“Our members receive a great return on their investment by being a part of the event,” said Bill Miles, chamber president and CEO. “This is an easy way for restaurants to attract diners during the slowest time of the year.”

The Black Marlin Bayside Grill at Palmetto Bay Marina offered prix fixe menus throughout the winter season last year. Manager Kim Keppell noted that participating in Chamber Restaurant Week really tipped the scales.

“The increased publicity boosted sales for the entire week,” said Keppell. “For example, our Friday night sales doubled that of the previous year for the same night in January.”

Chamber Restaurant Week is modeled after similar events in New York City and Los Angeles, encouraging residents to dine out for lunch and dinner.

“I know people who will go to New York City just to go to Restaurant Week,” said Buckingham. “They told me I should participate and I’m glad I did. I have friends in the industry that didn’t and regretted it.”

C.Q.’s chef Eric Sayers said, the Lowrey Group’s C.Q.’s, Antonio’s and Old Fort Pub are excited to participate this year. “Restaurant week gives our local folks an opportunity to experience our passion for the culinary arts,” said Eric.

Considering the success of the inaugural event, the chamber expects even more area restaurants to participate this year. Other area establishments participating include Frankie Bones, Truffles, La Famiglia and Aqua Grille & Lounge. The chamber will be gathering menu information as more member restaurants jump on board for Chamber Restaurant Week. A web page at www.hiltonheadchamber.org will be updated with new menus and new ideas for dining out in the Lowcountry.

Chamber Restaurant Week will be held January 23-30, 2010. For more
information on Chamber Restaurant Week, including a list of participating
restaurants, visit www.hiltonheadchamber.org.

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The Sandbox – An Interactive Children’s Museum

January “Parent’s Night Out” Events Partner with Local “Restaurant Week” Programs

The Sandbox, An Interactive Children’s Museum, is partnering with the South Carolina Hospitality Association and the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce by hosting “Parent’s Night Out – Kid’s Night In” events during their respective “restaurant week” programs.

Both events take place on the final Saturday of each organization’s week-long program. The first event, January 16, partners with the South Carolina Hospitality Association’s state-wide program and the second event, January 30, is in conjunction with our local Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd annual Restaurant Week.

The “Parent’s Night Out” events enable parents to enjoy an adult dinner or night out while their children are supervised and entertained in The Sandbox’s interactive museum. These “drop-off” events are offered from 6:00-9:00 pm, are geared for children 3 to 9 years of age (all children must be potty trained) and include a pizza dinner, special arts and crafts projects, supervised play throughout the hands on museum and a fun take home toy for each child. Cost is only $30 per child, with a reduced $25 fee for siblings and Sandbox Members.

“These Restaurant Weeks are wonderful programs supporting our local dining establishments”, states Executive Director, Carol Pfeffer. “We feel The Sandbox is a kids’ favorite and partnering with both weekly programs is a great way to support our local restaurants during the off-season.”

Space is limited so call (843)842-7645 for more detailed information or to
make a reservation. Release forms may also be downloaded from The
Sandbox’s website, www.thesandbox.org.

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