Small plates, big ideas: New effort to bring business to Durham restaurants

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A special weekly dining event comes to Durham as local restaurants and bars collaborate despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Starting Wednesday, The Small Plate Crawl is a new effort by Durham dining establishments to attract customers to their businesses. Each Thursday, participating locations will offer a special item centered around the idea of a "small plate."

According to Theresa Norris of M Pocha, the hope of those participating is that patrons enjoy the small plate specials offered by multiple different restaurants and bars.

"We're very thankful for the support of the community. Restaurants really need our help right now between the slow months from COVID and the weather," Norris said. So this is to help promote to go to multiple restaurants in one night so that everyone can get some help."

The event is a collaboration of downtown Durham eating and drinking establishments and according to Elizabeth Turnbull, bar director and owner of COPA, the crawl is an opportunity for these restaurants and bars to work together while drumming up business.

"It's something that I think is part of what makes Durham so special," Turnbull said. "Instead of all of us trying to fight each other for a larger piece of a small pie right now, we're all saying, 'Hey, how can we just get more pie for everybody?'"

The idea for the Small Plate Crawl began when Durham chef Matthew Kelly approached Turnbull about joining forces on an event, Turnbull said. The idea grew larger as Turnbull invited more area restaurants to join and decided the effort would be more effective as a weekly event rather than one time only.

Turnbull said she hopes the crawl not only benefits customers and local businesses but also lifts the spirits of their workers and owners.

"We need the business, but the other part that I think that's really cool about this is that I think it's a really good morale boost and an encouragement for people in the industry who have been feeling maybe worn thin or like they're showing up to work and there's not a lot of reward for that," Turnbull said.
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