As we prepare to publish our 20th Best of the Inland Northwest issue next month, we’ve been digging through old issues to see what was on the community’s mind through all those years. For restaurants in particular, it’s been a trip down memory lane. In that very first Best Of in 1994, our readers voted for places we still love today — Europa Pizzaria, Dick’s, the Elk. But there are others now long-forgotten — Patsy Clark’s, Fitzbillie’s, T.W. Fisher’s.
Starting in 1998, we asked you to judge the Best New Restaurant, and, again, some are still going strong while others are out of business. For every now-closed Bayou Brewing Company (1998) and Sawtooth Grill (2001), there’s a still-thriving Downriver Grill (2004) and Scratch (2008).
The point is, the restaurant business is brutal, which is where Spokane Restaurant Week comes in.
The concept was created in 1992 by Tim Zagat, noted restaurant guru and publisher of Zagat Restaurant Surveys. He says the recession is making life even tougher for restaurants today. “We know from surveying hundreds of thousands of customers,” Zagat told the Atlantic, “they are eating out less and generally being far more price-sensitive in choosing where and what to eat. … All this amounts to an erosion of revenues and profits.”
And that’s where Restaurant Week can help. “Bargain prix fixe menus are always a lure for customers,” Zagat adds, “especially now.”
So for the first time ever, Spokane has its very own Restaurant Week — a cooperative effort between us here at The Inlander and the team over at Visit Spokane.
I still remember back in the day when Lindaman’s opened, then Luna and Fugazzi. Spokane was finally getting the kinds of restaurants you could only find in Seattle — and we were becoming a “real” city in the process. As local risk-takers have added to that must-try list over the years, Spokane has become much more of a foodie kind of town — but only because enough of you support it. And here’s a chance to make that army of culinary adventurers even bigger.
All over the country, this event has been a slam-dunk. In New York City, they have four weeks of Restaurant Week. (Isn’t that, like, Restaurant Month?) In Seattle, they hold Restaurant Week in the fall and in the spring. If you’re new to our dining scene, you can finally see what all the talk is about. If you’re already a devoted foodie, you can branch out from your usual favorites. Either way, don’t wait — tables are going to fill up fast!