RENO,Nev. — On May 21, 2017, an Instagram account called “Hungry in Reno” made its first post: a photo of a caramel budino taken at Campo in downtown Reno.
Started by native Nevadan Cheree Boteler, the account was simply created as a platform for her food photos. More than three years, 885 posts, and 2,600 followers later, Hungry in Reno has become something much more.
An avid restaurant-goer, Boteler has turned Hungry in Reno as not only a place to showcase the region's food and drink scene, but a space for chefs, restaurateurs and foodies to share their story — why they got into the industry, why they chose Northern Nevada and what they want customers to know.
“I started to realize that the owners and the chefs didn't have as much of a voice as they could have,” Boteler said in a recent phone interview with the NNBW. “I started writing some stories about the people behind the restaurants, and had a couple of events to allow for some of the community to meet the owners and the chefs and talk to them.
“I know how important it is for people to connect to restaurant owners and chefs, personally, and the loyalty that comes with that.”
This, Boteler said, helped fuel her decision to organize the first-ever Reno Restaurant Week.
Taking place June 17-24, participating food and drink establishments in Reno, Sparks and Carson City — even as far out as the Frey Ranch Estate Distillery in Fallon — will offer customers reduced or fixed-price menus and/or specialty items, said Boteler, who works as the Chief Marketing Officer at local nonprofit STEP2.
“I really feel like our food and drink establishments here are so worthy of celebration,” she said. “I felt like it was time for us to have something to celebrate … and give some good news; let's have some good news for a change. The food and drink industry is really rallying around it, and they are excited to have something to celebrate, too.”
Initially, Boteler hoped 30 restaurants would participate in the inaugural event. At registration's end, more than 50 food and drink-related businesses were on board. As of June 4, the Reno Restaurant Weekend website shows 58 participants.
Each participating restaurant paid $100, with a portion going toward marketing the event, and the rest of the proceeds going to three local nonprofits: Reno Ice, Veterans Guest House and the aforementioned STEP2.
“Community is at the core of who we are,” Joe Cannella, owner of Ferino Distillery in Reno, said in a press release about the endeavor. “This is a time when Reno has a great opportunity to come together to support each other and those most in need.”
With that in mind, Boteler emphasized that all restaurants partaking in Reno Restaurant Week will be COVID-19 compliant, and any active phase restrictions will be followed. She added that people are encouraged to make reservations if they plan to dine-in.
Michael Tragash, community manager at Yelp in Reno, an event sponsor, said Reno Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for the community to “get reacquainted” with local restaurants and show their support.
“The best part about doing this now,” he said in an email to the NNBW, “is that it allows you to participate in whatever ways you're comfortable, from visiting a participating restaurant and enjoying their special or discount in-house, ordering takeout/delivery, or grabbing a gift card and of course, making sure to share it all on social media.”
Boteler said the event is also a chance for newer residents to get a taste of what Northern Nevada's medley of restaurants has to offer.
“We have so many new people here in town, and many of them don't know what food and drink establishments are out there,” she said. “Not only that, but some long-time residents don't know we have a really cool food and drink scene here.”
As of late May, sponsors for Reno Restaurant Week include: Nevada State Bank, Sierra Meat and Seafood, Berge & Company CPA, Get Certified Food Safety, Haus of Reed, Kylie Rowe Co., Edible Reno-Tahoe, About Town Deb, M&A Business Advisors, RetroRocket Coffee, Gratis Payment Processing, and Yelp Reno.