Following nearly a year and a half of dining restrictions and the permanent closure of more than 1,000 New York City restaurants, NYC & Company’s five-week-long Restaurant Week celebrates the diverse and delicious New York food scene. Diners can take advantage of Restaurant Week advantages from nearly 530 restaurants until August 22, 2021.
Restaurant Week premiered 29 years ago as a way to welcome the Democratic National Convention to New York City. Creator of the Zagat Survey, Tim Zagat, and restaurateur Joe Baum wanted to entice visitors to visit local restaurants. As delegates and journalists roamed 1992 New York City, 95 restaurants opened their doors with dining deals. As long-time New York City residents joined the festivities, Zagat and Baum decided to continue Restaurant Week as a tradition. Other cities have followed suit with their own version of Restaurant Week.
Among the driving forces in creating a vision for the bi-annual celebration has been the guidance of long time New York City restaurant executive Tracy Nieporent. The long-time marketing guru of the Myriad Restaurant Group has given of himself tirelessly for the last 17 years to forge the growth of the event. Nieporent has teamed with NYC & Co. to expand the event from once a year to the addition of a second dining celebration in the Winter.
“ ‘NYC Restaurant Week’ returns once again this summer taking on new resonance as a celebration of the city’s remarkable and resilient culinary community, and an opportunity to bring friends and family back together in support,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We are delighted to invite diners to make plans now to dine out often and experience the diversity of cuisines that make New York City the restaurant capital of the world.”
“It’s extraordinary, the greatest restaurants in the world — an opportunity for you and me to go out there and experience them… even if you don’t have a lot of money, great, great, deals,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said last month. “We know the restaurant community went through so much during the pandemic, but people fought back. The restaurant owners, the employees, they fought back, they kept their businesses going, and now Restaurant Week is going to give them more customers, and a whole lot more energy.”
Today, Restaurant Week occurs semiannually and encourages New Yorkers to push past their comfort zones by trying new cuisines and exploring the five boroughs. During NYC Restaurant Week To Go which occurred early 2021, more than 800 restaurants participated to try to recover from COVID-19-induced economic issues.
Now, with almost 60 percent of New York City’s population vaccinated, Restaurant Week can return with indoor and outdoor dining along with takeout. This is the first time the event has lasted longer than a week. When traveling between the 75 neighborhoods in which Restaurant Week eateries reside, diners can try more than 50 cuisines. Additionally, restaurant categories include “NYC Classics,” “Date Night,” “As Seen on TV,” “The Slice is Right,” and “Editor’s Picks.”
Diners can choose either a dinner or a lunch priced at $21 or $39. Deals vary between restaurants, with some offering both lunch and dinner for $21 and others offering only dinner for $39. Some restaurants offer a signature dining experience for $125, which includes at least three courses and exclusive “dining enhancements.” Mastercard cardholders can register to receive a $10 statement credit on each transaction of $39 or more while dining on-site during the event.
Participating restaurants include Greenwich Village’s White Horse Tavern frequented by Beat Generation writers, and two of Daniel Boulud‘s eateries — Bar Boulud and Epicerie Boulud — along with more than 500 others. Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, a Black-owned ice cream store in Harlem, will serve pop-culture inspired ice cream. Flavors include Ice Ice Mikey and Pink Floyd. Leuca, an Italian venue in Brooklyn, will serve house-made pasta and wood-fired pizzas out of its corner shop in Williamsburg. Veselka, a Ukrainian diner in the East Village founded in 1954, will serve pierogis and sweet cheese blintzes.
Nieporent, who is preparing to move into a more advisory position with the New York City Restaurant Week program noted, “What I am really proud of is how simple we have made it for a restaurant to get involved in the program. This year’s event has become so important as our industry is searching to get people to go back to habit of dining again.” Nieporent continued, “But it’s challenging because so many of our participating restaurants are dependent on people coming back to work in the office building that we share our neighborhoods with.”