Rochester restaurant week boosts downtown sales

Downtown Rochester’s Restaurant Week concluded March 4, despite construction on Rochester Road and rain at the end of the week.

Ten restaurants participated this year, offering discounted food and other promotions aimed at gaining new clientele and additional exposure.

The week was considered a success by participating businesses because of an increase in sales and positive feedback from customers.

Participants like Hibachi House Bar and Grille also find triumph in participating in this event in order to promote an entirely new restaurant.

For Penn Station, a specialty sub shop, the financial success was immediate and dramatic. Penn Station manager Jeff Stencel said, “Monday is usually busy due to our $3.69 special, but we’ve been almost 50 percent busier than usual.”

Restaurants like Penny Black have cultivated their success by learning from last year’s event, focusing on becoming more efficient while trying to better anticipate the needs of customers. The tactic appears to have worked.

Penny Black manager Missy Markevics said, “A large number of people have been ordering off of the Restaurant Week menu … more people than usual are coming in.”

Rojo Mexican Bistro experienced similar success. Manager Bridgette Munaco was quick to point out that even at the beginning of the week there were “absolutely more customers.”

When asked what she looked forward to the most in contributing to this event she said, “Rochester promotes well, so I look forward to drawing people in … I love downtown Rochester because of all the community events.”

The theme of community was evident in each participant’s testimonials.

Annette Chapman, director of outlets at the Royal Park Hotel which contains participant Brookshire Restaurant, said, “There is nice camaraderie here … Everyone in the community should come out and try the restaurants… get out and do something positive (for the community.)”

Stewart McWillams, a manager at the Rochester Mills Brewery, pointed out he was happy to offer “good deals to existing customers and to new customers.”

McWilliams’ attitude reflects that of his fellow Restaurant Week participants, and seems to have fueled a successful week.

“It’s been busier than normal,” McWilliams said.

Some of the importance of Restaurant Week can be seen by looking at the Menus of the participants — certain prices are greatly reduced.

Main Street Deli’s owner Linda Lucaj created “cost conscious” meals in order to “accommodate different customers.”

On Monday alone, Lucaj reported that 30 percent of sales came from the Restaurant Week menu alone.

Main Street Deli, which already offers a large menu selection, had already sold 65 items off of their Restaurant Week menu by Friday evening, which Lucaj said was “very successful.”

If the reactions of the participants this year are any indication, Restaurant Week will continue to be a cherished event in Downtown Rochester, according to McWilliams.

“It’s a great promotional thing … people get to get out and experience new things.  It rewards loyal customers and gets new people in,” McWilliams said.

Stencel said, “(We) really appreciate downtown and look forward to building this community. It’s got a good atmosphere; everyone’s trying to help one another.”

When asked if Main Street Deli would participate next year, Lucaj said “Absolutely, without a doubt I’m a big fan of the city, the restaurants, the food and the diverse culture.”