There’s no denying Cleveland’s dining scene has changed significantly in the last several months. As a result of COVID-19, some longstanding restaurants such as Douglas Katz’ Fire Food & Drink have shuttered, paving the way for new ones such as Chimi which takes more socially distant approaches to dining with an emphasis on takeout and ghost restaurant procedures.
Following that same trend, Cleveland Independents’ Restaurant Week is shaking things up this year with a new format. In recent years, the two-weeklong event in November and March ushered in a large wave of foodies interested in trying three-course prix fixe meals. This year, that format is being replaced with specially designed takeout dinners for two and four people from Nov. 9-20.
“Since the pandemic started, the amount of takeout that’s happening has increased significantly,” says Myra Orenstein, acting executive director of Cleveland Independents. “We wanted to make sure that we were still offering Restaurant Week but offering it in a way that we felt would result in the greatest participation.”
The move, which allows participating restaurants to set their own prices, certainly allows for more flexibility. With more than 50 restaurants participating, some, such as Melt Bar and Grilled, are first-time participants. You’ll find a four-course option at Matt Fish’s grilled cheese restaurants that offers your choice of appetizer, soup, salad or mac ‘n’ cheese and the New Bomb Turkey Melt with smoked turkey breast, sage stuffing, roasted butternut squash puree, gravy, cranberry chutney and Muenster cheese.
“Pay attention to who’s participating this year, because some of the restaurants they might assume are participating might not be and there’s a whole group of them that have never participated because the prix fixe amount was not what they were comfortable with,” says Orenstein. “But considering the environment, I think it’s a show of strength for Cleveland. We’re still moving along very strongly.”
Although the final list of participants won’t be revealed until the end of October, Orenstein is confident the event’s new direction will be a success for all involved.
“The restaurant industry is one of the hardest hit industries because of the pandemic, and I just want to drive traffic to their restaurants,” Orenstein says. “I think that’s the goal that we all have. We just want to keep them in business.”
More info: clevelandindependents.com