Triangle Restaurant Week expands to nearly 100 restaurant in its 12th year

January 21 marks the beginning of Triangle Restaurant Week and has nearly quadrupled in size since it first began in 2008.

"It was an event that we found worked well in New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C., and we brought it here to kind of unite the Triangle," explained Damon Butler, who founded the event.

In its first year, 26 restaurants participated. This year, that number is just under 100, including one of the area's newest restaurants, Papa Shogun. The Italian and Japanese fusion restaurant opened a couple months ago in Seaboard Station.

"Definitely with restaurants that have a little bit more of a unique cuisine or a unique concept, certainly just getting people interested in that concept is usually the biggest challenge. So hopefully by participating in Triangle Restaurant Week, we can get a wider exposure," explained chef-owner Tom Cuomo.

Cuomo shared a positive experience of restaurant week when he worked in New York City. "It exposed more people to new restaurants that they wouldn't necessarily try. It exposed those restaurants to people that they wouldn't necessarily get," Cuomo recalled.

Butler noted one of the key highlights of the week will be encouraging people to expand their taste palettes.

"Try restaurants that you traditionally wouldn't have tried before. It's a great way to get out an experience something new and get out of your little five to 10-mile radius," Butler urged.

Most restaurants offer prix fixe menus, which often include special items.

"We've got a few dishes on the restaurant week menu that are not normal dishes that we serve," explained Cuomo.

Butler said based on reservations made through their website, plus feedback from restaurants, the week brings in about $500,000 in additional revenue to the area and participating restaurants; many of which use locally-owned businesses to source their materials.

On average, diners save 10-20 percent on meals.

About 60 percent of the restaurants are partnered with Open Table, but customers can always call ahead to make reservations. Butler encouraged people to search for restaurants that offer lunch options when it's typically less busy.

If you're interested in learning about which restaurants are participating and specific meal offerings, click here.
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