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Triangle Restaurant Week returns as industry faces pandemic-related setbacks

Chef Ian Sullivan prepares dinner at Vivace in Raleigh on Jan. 24th, 2022. Vivace is one of many restaurants participating in Triangle Restaurant Week this year.

Triangle Restaurant Week, a celebration of culinary excellence set to premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding restaurants, will return to action starting Jan. 24. 

The event, which will last until Jan. 30, typically takes place in January and June. Damon Butler, Triangle Restaurant Week founder, said the event allows both restaurants and patrons the opportunity to explore new restaurants. 

“There are more options for restaurants to go off the menu and try to think of something special and unique to offer the diners," he said. "It is a lot of fun for chefs and restaurant owners.” 

No reservations, tickets or passes are necessary in order to attend. Individuals can attend and eat at various price points. A 3-course lunch is $15, and a 2-3-course dinner is $25-$40. 

Amber Watson, founder and creator of the culinary blog Bites of Bull City, said she is excited for the event to return because food plays a huge role in our lives. 

“(The) nostalgic piece of us still wants to have a great meal, enjoy ourselves, get lost in the delicious food and not worry about everything else that’s going on,” Watson said.

Kevin Jennings, the partner of Coquette Brasserie, said that people can be nervous to try new restaurants because they are cognizant about what they're going to spend and where they're going to spend it. He's excited that his restaurant was included in this year's lineup.

“We're always very appreciative and thankful when the focus of the public is directed towards restaurants, particularly with the last 24 months behind us,” Jennings said.

Impact of the pandemic

Butler said this year’s Triangle Restaurant Week has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year, Butler said the event has seen a 30 percent decrease in restaurant participation — largely because of an increase in food costs and a shortage of restaurant workers. 

Watson feels there is less excitement surrounding this year’s event compared to prior years because of current struggles within the restaurant industry and fears surrounding COVID-19.

“I wish there were more places, and I wish everyone was more excited to dine and not worried about contracting COVID while they dine at these lovely places,” Watson said. 

Jennings said that for the restaurant industry, it doesn’t get much worse than the past two years, but he encourages patrons to explore new restaurants.

“Go get outside your comfort zone, come out to restaurants that you've never been to, try them out and see what you think," he said. "There’s a good amount of really cool restaurants in the Triangle and they’re building new ones every day.”

The post-pandemic future of Triangle Restaurant Week is also up in the air, Butler said. While the decreased restaurant participation has allowed new restaurants to participate, other restaurants have had to adapt to COVID-19 by offering other options like outdoor dining.

“Over the past year and a half, two years, restaurants have been in a tough spot,” Butler said. “This event just reminds the community that restaurants are an important part of our community and are a great place to work and play.”

Watson said Triangle Restaurant Week is a great way for patrons to show their support for local businesses.

“It’s a tough time for restaurants, so it’s a good thing to get out there and support them in whatever way you can," she said. 


@DTHCityState | 

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