By John Burton
RED BANK – The owners of some borough eateries are hoping a special price will be an incentive to draw people out at night during part of the cold, dark February.
Red Bank RiverCenter, the management organization for the borough’s commercial Special Improvement District, has organized and is promoting Restaurant Week. The promotion, which runs from Feb. 16-27, excluding Fridays and Saturdays, has a selection of 26 restaurants from around the borough that will be offering a three-course prix fixe menu for $30.
“Speaking with restaurants we know, February can be a slow time,” RiverCenter Executive Director James Scavone said about the strategy in offering the dining-out promotion to encourage business.
“It’s a great opportunity to try a new restaurant or to return to a favorite spot,” he said.
“The bottom line is it brings people in during the week,” said Danny Murphy, owner of Danny’s Steakhouse and Sushi, 11 Bridge Ave., the longest continuingly operating restaurant in the borough. “It’s giving people a really good bargain and a reason to come to you.”
“I think it is in our best interest to be part of it,” said Katerina Giambalvo, owner/chef of Monticello of Red Bank, 69 Broad St. “It promotes the town and it promotes us.”
While the after-holidays winter months can be tough any year, this year it has been compounded by some harsh weather.
“The weather the last few weeks has been more than horrendous,” Murphy said. “It affects a lot of businesses, not just restaurants.”
Anything that may be a shot in the arm is welcomed, restaurant owners noted.
“This should help, I don’t see why it wouldn’t,” said Tom Cappello, who owns Gaetano’s, 10 Wallace St.
RiverCenter and the local restaurants for a number of years conducted what they called Dine Downtown, a fixed-rate menu, offered one night a week in October and March. The feeling among the owners was that it was getting stale, Scavone acknowledged. There also was a sense that it was aimed at assisting just downtown locations, instead of the whole town, Cappello said.
“This way it’s more inclusive,” he said.
It is also much easier to promote the dining promotion if it takes place over a week or two, as a practical matter, Scavone said.
For Giambalvo it is also an opportunity to be introduced to customers who have yet to try her 5-year-old location. She will be highlighting some newer options from her menu that features a cuisine she called northern Italian “with a twist.”
“It’s another chance for people to try what you have to offer,” she said.
“It brings back customers who may not have been here in a while,” Murphy said, “and that’s your chance to shine.”