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Restaurant Weeks Lure Diners out of Hibernation

While Americans bask in the afterglow of a diverted dive off the fiscal cliff, the restaurant business faces its toughest quarter of the year from January through March. It’s always a challenge to lure diners out in the cold winter months. Adding to the disincentives are smaller paychecks thanks the elimination of the two percent payroll tax, post-holiday malaise and three months with only one food-centered holiday (Valentine’s Day, the second-most popular restaurant holiday behind Mothers Day).
    Expecting the lull, the restaurant industry has developed promotions to inspire and stimulate business. A popular incentive is Restaurant Week. Across the nation, cities have embraced the concept by offering fixed-price meals at discounted prices during traditionally slow weeks. Organizers charge participation fees while providing marketing and web presence. Diners can survey participating restaurants online, see menus and in many cases make reservations.
   Annapolis Restaurant Week, organized and sponsored by the Annapolis Business Association, returns for its fifth year from February 25 though March 3. Participation and pricing is still in the works. Last year, 41 restaurants, most in downtown Annapolis, served prix fixe menus of two courses for lunch for $15.95 and three courses for dinner for $32.95. Some included a glass of wine, and a couple added breakfast options.
    Making a first foray to the feast, Calvert County’s Department of Economic Development has launched Calvert County Restaurant Week February 1 thru 10. Here you’ll find a wider range of pricing and options beyond reservation restaurants. At the most recent count, 35 restaurants have signed up and posted special menu options. Calvert choices range from smoothies (Smoothie King) to prime rib (Isaac’s).
    Prizes are offered to encourage diners to fill out feedback cards both in restaurants and online, with winners drawn February 17. Follow developments at www.choosecalvert.com/
restaurantweek.
    Many restaurants fill up during Restaurant Week, so make reservations early and advise that you’ll be taking advantage of restaurant week specials. Taxes, gratuities and beverages (in most cases) are not included in the price. If you decide against the prix fixe offerings, you can order off the regular menu.
    Baltimore Restaurant Week (www.baltimorerestaurantweek.com) offers two-course lunches for $15.13 and three course dinners for $30.13 (or in a couple of cases $20.13) from January 25 to February 3 with over 100 restaurants participating.
    Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week (www.ramw.org) offers three-course lunches for $20.13 and three-course dinners for $35.13 from February 4 to 10 with over 200 restaurants participating.