For one week, sipping refreshing gazpacho, nibbling on cheese and partaking in pie at some local eateries will help both wounded veterans and the restaurants’ bottom lines.
For the first time, dining at any of the 26 restaurants participating in “Bethesda-Chevy Chase Summer Restaurant Week,” which runs from July 29 to Aug. 4, will mean making a donation to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. The Bethesda-based nonprofit helps wounded veterans with housing, transportation and support programs once they have returned home.
Participating restaurants will offer two- and three-course lunches for $12 or $16 and dinners for $33. Restaurants will donate 10 percent of the week’s proceeds to the Yellow Ribbon Fund and diners can contribute more if they like, said Laura Kimmel, spokeswoman for the Restaurant Association of Maryland. The association organizes the event along with the Bethesda Urban Partnership and the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce. For a complete list of sponsors, visit the Restaurant Week website.
The goal is to raise $5,000, Kimmel said.
Bethesda’s summertime restaurant week was launched in 2005. There is also one in the wintertime. The success of Washington’s restaurant week paved the way, Kimmel said.
The promotion comes at a time when restaurant business is slow.
“Summer is a time we see a dip in business, with vacations,” said Sophia Coppula of the Bethesda Urban Partnership said. “This reminds people there are great restaurants in downtown Bethesda.”
And Chevy Chase, and Potomac and even Rockville. All have restaurants participating this year.
The summer months are slow, said Kyle Gaffney, a managing partner at The Capital Grille in Friendship Heights, so the timing is perfect.
“You wouldn’t do this the week before the December holidays,” Gaffney said. “It’s strategically done to drive business.”
And drive business it does. Gaffney estimated that the number of customers The Capital Grille sees during restaurant week almost doubles.
The customers are a mix, he said, of regulars who come in for their favorites and newbies who are looking for a deal
Those customers may be paying a smaller tab than usual, he said, but the numbers make up for it.
“The biggest difference is more people,” he said. “The margins may be a bit different. But margins don’t go in the bank, profits go in the bank.”