Restaurant Week a last hurrah before summer

Among the Chandler participants in Arizona Restaurant Week is The Sicilian Butcher at Chandler Fashion Center. (Facebook)

For 15 years, foodies in the Valley and beyond have been feasting on three-course meals at some of the state’s finest eating establishments during Arizona Restaurant Week.

The spring edition, which began Friday, May 19, runs through Sunday, May 28.

This year, 160 restaurants from across the Valley, Flagstaff and Tucson have concocted special menu items, donated hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards and are preparing for one of the busiest weeks of the year. 

“It’s one of the best times of the year here in the spring,” said Arizona Restaurant Association President/CEO Steve Chucri. “It’s a great 10-day eating affair for a very good value.” 

To participate in restaurant week, restaurants have a small set of rules to adhere to. 

Each must offer a three-course meal for $33, $44 or $55 and give away gift cards randomly to diners. 

Though the rules are simple, the week culminates months of preparation and some of the most creatively chaotic days of the year for executive chefs like Christopher George, who oversees the menus at Arizona Restaurant Week returners Sea & Smoke Mesquite Seafood Grill and CHoP in Chandler as well as The Living Room in Scottsdale’s DC Ranch neighborhood.

“We fell into the $44 price point so for the first time, (The Living Room) will have a three-course meal,” George said. 

George believes that offering a three-course meal for the first time there will change the diners’ perception of The Living Room. 

“We’re known for sandwiches, Bang Bang Shrimp and potstickers up there so this is a cool time for us to show our guests at The Living Room that we can do more with our entrees,” George said. 

For other restaurants – like Maggiore Group’s Sicilian Butcher, The Mexicano and the Italian Daughter – Restaurant Week offers a last hurrah before the slower season. 

“It gives us that last push before summer,” said Maggiore Group co-founder Joey Maggiore, adding that the Arizona Restaurant Association “does it at the right time.

“We’re going out of season so it really helps restaurants help us get everything ready for the season,” he said. 

The sentiment was echoed by Chucri. 

“As we get to Mother’s Day, we really see a drop off in the restaurant industry because people are going out of state for summer and obviously the summer months are slower months for the restaurant industry here in Arizona,” Chucri said.

“So we try to bookended by giving a good shot in the arm to restaurants with a high frequency of visitors coming in with Restaurant Week as they go into summer.” 

Since this is the last big hoorah for restaurants before tourism season returns, most restaurateurs are ensuring that their employees have their ducks in a row to provide top-notch service. 

“We see about a 60% to 70% increase in sales,” Maggiore said. “It brings awareness to all the restaurants since you can go to these amazing restaurants in town for $33 per person or $44 and you’re not hurting the bank. But then you get to try things that you wouldn’t normally try. 

“We tell the staff ‘these are new customers, treat them as you would treat your family, win them over, make them come back and make good money while you’re at it because people come in, they understand they’re getting a deal.” 

Because of this, Chucri hopes that diners can find their next regular destination during Arizona Restaurant Week. 

“Our hope is that when they find a new restaurant they will fall in love. This is an opportunity to do so at a fraction of the cost,” Chucri said. 


Participating restaurants around the East Valley are:

Chandler: Black Angus Steakhouse, CHoP, Cuisine & Wine Bistro, Feringhee Modern Indian Cuisine, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, San Tan Brewing Co., Sea & Smoke Mesquite Seafood Grill, Spirit House Cocktails & Kitchen, The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, The Sicilian Butcher, Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill and Z’Tejas.

Gilbert: Culinary Dropout, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Isabel’s Amor: Mexican Cafe & Tequila Bar, Kona Grill, The Keg Steakhouse, Liberty Market, Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill and Zinburger.

Mesa: Black Angus Steakhouse, Charleston’s Restaurant, Dolce Vita Gelato and Grocery, Rodizio Grill and The Patio and Grille at Las Sendas.

Scottsdale: Ajo Al’s Mexican Cafe, Arboleda, Arrivederci Pinnacle Peak, B&B Cocktail Lounge, Bandolero Cocina de México, Blanco Cocina + Cantina, Buck & Rider - North Scottsdale, Campo Italian Bistro & Bar, Chart House, Chauncey Social, CIELO at Adero.

Also, Citizen Public House, Cobre Kitchen + Cocktails, Collins Bros. Chophouse, Culinary Dropout, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Famous 48, Farm and Craft Scottsdale, Federal American Grill, Fire at Will, Fratelli La Bufala, Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, Hand Cut Chophouse.

Also, Hush Public House, Kona Grill, La Locanda Ristorante Italiano, Ling & Louies Asian Bar and Grill, Ling’s Wok Shop, Mowry & Cotton, OBON Sushi Bar Ramen, Pasta Brioni, Paul Martin’s American Grill, Prado, Preston’s Steakhouse, Pubblico Italian Eatery, RnR Gastropub, Roaring Fork, Rockefeller, Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar, STK Steakhouse.

Other Scottsdale participants are Tapas Papa Frita, Tash, Taaza Bistro Mediterranean Fusion, The Canal Club, The Capital Grille, The Italian Daughter, The Living Room - DC Ranch, The Mexicano, The Phoenician Taverna, The White Chocolate Grill, Thompson105, Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar, Wallys American Gastropub, Weft & Warp Art Bar & Kitchen, Z’Tejas and Zinburger.

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