By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — With the year’s second Local Restaurant Week starting up tomorrow, it’s time to considering how you’re going to fill up your dinner dance card this week. With about 200 restaurants participating this year, it’ll make for some tough decisions.
The deal is this: Customers can get lunch or dinner for one or two people for $20.12. The price stays the same, but the deals change. One restaurant may offer two dinners for $20.12, other, pricier restaurants may offer just one dinner for the same amount.
In each case, though, you’ll get a chance to try a locally owned and operated restaurant at a fraction of the normal bill. The idea is to try something new, said Christa Hobart, of Local Restaurant Week.
“(LRW) gets you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “It gets you to try a restaurant you normally wouldn’t ... an excuse to break from the norm.”
Which is exactly why Chaw Khaing, owner of Yummy Thai in North Tonawanda says she participates each time the twice-yearly event roles around.
“If (customers have) never been here before, this is their chance to try something new with cheaper prices,” she said, adding that she’s pleased to add to the variety of cuisines for LRW, particularly in the Tonawandas.
In terms of menu options for LRW, Yummy Thai’s is pretty flexible, Khaing said. Customers can choose from one of two dinnertime options. Option one is dinner for one for $20.12, which includes soup or appetizer, select entrees and a dessert or alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. Option two is actually for $30.12, a dinner for two that includes an appetizer to share or two small soups, two select entrees and a dessert to share.
With dozens of dishes to select, the combinations at Yummy Thai are nearly endless for LRW. And for those who are new to Thai food and may be wary of spicy dishes, restaurant workers are willing offer suggestions. Khaing said the restaurant’s specialties are peanut king and healthy garlic ... big sellers.
For those looking to savor a nice steak for LRW, Erin Eagan, manager at the Shannon Pub in the Town of Tonawanda, said they’re changing things up a little this year.
“Everyone knows we have great Irish specials,” she said. “We just want to promote our steaks as well because they’re delicious. We wanted to take a different angle and show everyone the spectrum of what we have, not just the irish specialities.”
The Shannon Pub has three options for the week. Option one is a 12-ounce New York strip steak with choice of vegetable, option two, which is only available on Wednesday and Saturday is the 12-ounce prime rib with choice of vegetable and option three is Guinness barbecue smoked ribs with cole slaw. All options come with choice of potato, soup or salad and a drink of one of 16 beers on tap, glass of wine or mixed drink.
All three specials are for one person for lunch or dinner.
Like Yummy Thai, the Shannon Pub has participated in LRW a handful of times before and keeps returning because of the new customers they gain, Eagan said.
“We’ve gained clientele from all over ... and we’ll take any chance we can promote to other people,” she said. “We bring them in and keep them coming back.”
Eagan said the restaurant accepts reservations any day of the week, which is something Hobart strongly suggests taking advantage of.
She said some restaurants get so book for LRW, tables for the end of the week may not be available come as early as Wednesday.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than going out for this great special and then the wait is two hours,” Hobart said.
So call ahead, reserve a spot and take the week as an opportunity to celebrate the unique local restaurant scene Western New York has to offer.
“We really do it to celebrate the local independent restaurants in Western New York. If you’re from Buffalo you just assume every city has all these awesome restaurants, but this is very usual. It’s not like this all over the country,” Hobart said.
“Restaurants are really a part of our culture. When you bring someone from out of town to Buffalo, you want to take them to Chef’s Restaurant or Ilio DiPaolo’s. These iconic restaurants are right up there with Niagara Falls, the Bills and Sabres, and Frank Lloyd Wright ... they fall into the same category of things that make our area special and unique.”
For more information about LRW and to view the participating locations, visit www.localrestaurantweek.com. Hobart said the website has been completely revamped and optimized since the last LRW event for easy viewing on mobile devices.LRW RESTAURANTS IN THE TONAWANDAS Kenmore (chapter head) • Amici Ristorante, 2516 Elmwood Ave. • Jovi's Italian Grille & Bistro, 2795 Delaware Ave. • Manzella's Restaurant, 3347 Delaware Ave. • Marotto's Restaurant, 3365 Delaware Ave. • Orchid Asian Bistro, 2756 Elmwood Ave. North Tonawanda (chapter head) • The Hideaway Grille, 399 Division St. • Yummy Thai, 92 Webster St. Town of Tonawanda (chapter head) • Caputi's Sheridan Pub, 2351 Sheridan Drive • La Hacienda Brighton, 900 Brighton Road • Saigon Bangkok, 512 Niagara Falls Blvd. • Shannon Pub, 2250 Niagara Falls Blvd. Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.