Hope you're hungry: Lexington will have not one, but two summer dining weeks this year. One is in late June, the other in late July.
Lexington Eats Week, featuring "Flavors of Summer," will run June 25 though July 8, according to MJ Rogers, owner of Clawdaddy's.
Lexington Restaurant Week will be July 26 through Aug. 4, according to Connie Jo Miller, who organizes the event.
How'd we end up with two marquee dining events, both showcasing independent restaurants at bargain prices?
Last year, when Lexington Restaurant Week, which debuted in 2013, took a year off. Rogers organized an alternative to keep the momentum going for locally owned restaurants.
The impromptu "Eats Week" was a grassroots effort that drew customers to more than two dozen restaurants in the summer, when many are hurting for customers. It was such a success that they put together a "Comfort Food Week" in the winter and decided to do an event again this year.
The same restaurants, and more, that were involved in Lexington Eats Week last year are game to participate again this year, Rogers said. They will offer specials for $29 per person for dinner, with some restaurants also offering a two-person lunch special for $29.
Meanwhile, Miller is relaunching Lexington Restaurant Week, which in the past has featured as many as 60 restaurants. This year's event will offer specials for $29, for one person at expensive restaurants and for two people at moderately priced ones.
Each meal will contribute $2 to LexArts, which also is helping to promote the event, she said.
Restaurants can sign up to participate at LexingtonRestaurantWeek.com, which will post menus for the public to compare, she said. The cost to participate is $600 per restaurant location. The money finances a "huge media blitz" that brings in business year-round, Miller said.
"It's designed to highlight what the restaurants do best, to allow the chefs to really strut their stuff," she said. "It’s not like selling a cheap burger, it allows them to do what they do, and gain new customers."
(And, least we forget, Lexington Burger Week will be July 9-15, with more than 40 restaurants serving burgers.)
The goal of Miller's event, she said, is "to keep independent restaurants top of mind. We’re lucky to have more than our share of one-of-a-kind restaurants here in Lexington. And it’s a competitive market and we want to keep those folks in business. The point is when you go out, go local."
Still, Miller said she thinks two such events for dining out is one too many: "I think it confuses the public and dilutes the event," she said. "It loses its 'specialness.'"
The real winners might be Lexington foodies, who get more chances than ever to sample great food from local restaurants at bargain prices.
Specific restaurants and menus will be announced closer to the events.