Inaugural Reno Restaurant Week boosts business at area eateries
RENO, Nev. — When Cheree Boteler conceived of the inaugural Reno Restaurant Week, she hoped to stir up support for area food and drink establishments and help them reconnect with regulars and reel in new patrons.
Done … and done.
“From what I hear, the establishments are all pretty happy about it,” Boteler, founder of Hungry in Reno, a food and drink brand and organizer of the event, told the NNBW last week. “I think, ultimately, it was a great awareness for these restaurants and it kind of gave them a little boost for the week.”
Running June 17-24, Reno Restaurant Week saw 58 food and drink establishments across Reno, Sparks, Fallon and Carson City offer patrons reduced or fixed-price menus and specialty items. With the coronavirus pandemic in mind, Boteler said all restaurants were COVID compliant and offered the option of either dining in or takeout, and some offered delivery orders.
“There were a lot of options so people could feel safe in whatever space they were in,” Boteler said. “All of the restaurants were happy to comply with the restrictions in place.”
Many of the participating establishments felt the inaugural event helped shine a spotlight on the eclectic local food and drink scene.
“Reno Restaurant Week is bursting at the seams with flavor and culture. This event truly highlights the many tastes of Northern Nevada cuisine,” Mari Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen, in Reno’s midtown, said in a statement provided by Hungry in Reno.
Ijji Noodle House and Poke Don, based in south Reno, said the event served as an opportunity to “meet and connect” with many members of the community.
“Getting to see both new customers and returning regulars after the COVID-19 shutdowns reminded us of the amazing and strong community that is Reno. We would not exist without their support,” the noodle shop said in a statement.
The event also had a philanthropic component. A portion of the participating restaurants’ registration fee went to three local nonprofits: Reno Ice, Veterans Guest House and STEP2. Notably, Botelter is the chief communications officer of STEP2.
As of this story’s writing on July 1, Boteler said several participation fees are outstanding, and she is waiting for the food and drink establishments that chose to donate a portion of their sales to report charitable amounts.
As of July 1, the amount to be donated to the nonprofits from Reno Restaurant Week, in addition to other Hungry in Reno events and fundraisers that occurred throughout the past several weeks, is a little over $5,300.
She said the three aforementioned nonprofits would receive their portion of the proceeds toward the end of July.
“As with any event, there are always things that could have been done better,” Boteler said of Reno Restaurant Week. “However, I am absolutely thrilled with the success of this year’s event and very excited to start planning Reno Restaurant Week for 2021, which will most likely be 10 days.”
HIP winds down meal distribution after 3,000 servings
Boteler also volunteers as the president of the nonprofit Hospitality Industry Partnerships (HIP), which launched April 30 and over nine weeks handed out more than 3,000 meals to furloughed or laid-off hospitality and service workers in Reno and Carson City.
With participation dwindling in recent weeks due to businesses reopening and people going back to work, the HIP Management Team suspended distribution at Liberty Wine & Food Exchange in Reno and The Union in Carson City on June 26, according to a June 30 press release from Boteler.
“We are happy to see our economy opening up and people getting back to work; however, we know there are still many out there who may need assistance,” said Mark Estee, the local chef and owner of both restaurants who also serves as vice president of HIP.
With that, HIP has launched an online request for assistance form that can be completed by “anyone living in the Reno area who has been or is currently employed in the hospitality or service industry (including independent contractors),” according to the release.
“The HIP Team would be honored to have the opportunity to provide food relief and/or basic needs assistance to those individuals and families that are not currently receiving other assistance, receiving assistance but still unable to make ends meet and/or simply need a meal or some groceries to tide them over until they can find a full-time position,” per the release.
Months into the pandemic, many states and regions are in stages of recovery, some slower than others — and Reno-Sparks is in a much better position than most, says Sacramento financial analyst Sanjay Varshney.