Lexington's restaurant week was a roaring success, according to restaurateurs who participated in the event, held July 25 to Aug. 3.
For $25, diners at 40 restaurants — among them Jonathan at Gratz Park, Cheapside Bar and Grill, Columbia's Steakhouse, Dudley's on Short and Billy's BBQ — got a chance to explore numerous food options.
The project, officially called Beyond Grits: Lexington Restaurant Week, was initiated by the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau to showcase the city's thriving restaurant community.
"It was like a Friday night every night from the moment it started to the moment it ended," said Don Wathen, who with his wife, Barbara, is the owner of Nick Ryan's Saloon on Jefferson Street. "It blew my mind. I'd like for them to do it in the fall, or February."
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Keith Clark, owner of The Grey Goose, also on the increasingly restaurant-heavy Jefferson Street, said sales for the week were up more than 12 percent.
"Everybody was talking about record nights," Clark said. "The Jefferson Street corridor fared very well. ... It's a great thing for the city of Lexington."
The success was not limited to downtown. At The Ketch Seafood Grill on Regency Road, owner Art Howard said the restaurant's business was up about 20 percent "over our best two weeks ever."
"We had a lot of new faces, new response, new customers," said Howard, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Janet. "It's a popular notion, and they certainly should do it every year."
Niki Heichelbech, director of media services for the visitors bureau, urged participating restaurants to return an e-mail questionnaire distributed this week seeking their experiences with the special promotion.
"It's a bit too early to think about a second edition, but we're definitely thrilled with the response of the restaurants and enthusiasm of those who got out and took advantage of the offers," she said.
The "restaurant week" concept has already proved popular in cities including New York, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and Denver.