“Sip — Savor — Save & Support.”
That’s what many Lehigh Valley residents will be doing from April 8 to April 14. It’s the annual Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce (WACC) Restaurant Week!
Jessica O’Donnell, senior vice president of central affiliated chambers, spoke with The Press to discuss this annual event, which has been occurring for at least three years.
O’Donnell said when Restaurant Week occurs — this year being her second working on the event — she gets more excited every year for it.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to drive people to our area, to showcase what we have to offer — so turn it into not only a dining experience, but let’s also turn it into a shopping experience. It’s a great opportunity to give them a taste of what we offer and to support our local businesses. This is our economy, our area, our community to put that disposable money back into our community, so it’s very exciting.”
For a restaurant to participate in the event, a special menu is created. It’s a requirement, O’Donnell said. Restaurants also must send that menu to O’Donnell, so it can be published on WACC’s website.
What keeps restaurants coming back to do Restaurant Week and new restaurants trying it out? O’Donnell said it’s a mixture of things.
“I think what keeps them coming back is seeing the new customers and their sales obviously,” she said. “Also, I think we give them an opportunity to [receive marketing]. Where else is a restaurant going to be able to get a billboard, radio and print (marketing)? It’s a cheap marketing, but the value is totally there.
“I think also they know it’s going back to a good cause. We, as the chamber of commerce, are a chamber of commerce and a chamber of community. Anything we do with the chamber, we’re giving back to the community. One thing that we’re doing is we are putting $2,000 back into our community, and we’re raising that money through events like this.”
One of the events O’Donnell mentioned was the annual township tree lighting.
To get the word out about Restaurant Week, many outlets of advertising are used — iHeartRadio, Clipper Magazine, Facebook and Whitehall-Coplay Press.
Getting hungry yet? You have many dining choices during Restaurant Week.
Participating restaurants include Bonefish Grill, Lehigh Valley Mall; BRAVO Cucina Italiana, Lehigh Valley Mall; Bridge Street Family Restaurant, Catasauqua; Chick-fil-A, Whitehall; Chili’s Grill & Bar, Whitehall; Dunderbak’s Market Cafe, Lehigh Valley Mall; LongHorn Steakhouse, Whitehall; Mission BBQ, Whitehall; Riley’s Restaurant & Pub, Whitehall; Ruby Tuesday, Lehigh Valley Mall; Samuel Owens Restaurant & Bar, Coplay; The Bacon Strip, Coplay; The Burger Shack, Whitehall; Wicked Sweet Bake Shop, Whitehall; and Carmel Kitchen & Wine Bar, Allentown.
Sponsors of Restaurant Week are Geico Lehigh Valley Dan Mensch (presenting), Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Fellowship Community, Sam’s Club, BB&T, ESSA Bank & Trust, WFMZ 69 News, News Radio 790 WAEB, B104, Whitehall-Coplay Press and The Morning Call.
After Restaurant Week concludes, WACC asks each restaurant to complete a survey, asking questions such as how did your customers hear about Restaurant Week, did you have repeat and/or new customers, what did you like about the event and what would you change.
O’Donnell is already thinking ahead for next year’s event. She said WACC may do a save-your-receipt contest where you save your receipts from dining at the restaurants and submit them as an entry to win several restaurant gift cards.
“I think it can kind of be fun because that encourages them to spend and also encourages them to want to win that gift card basket,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell may create a social media hashtag for Restaurant Week, too. WACC is also considering doing another Restaurant Week sometime in the summer, she said.
O’Donnell encouraged residents to like WACC’s page on Facebook and to join the Restaurant Week event. WACC updates the event page and even has giveaways. You could be the lucky winner of a restaurant gift card.
To see the restaurants’ menus, visit lehighvalleychamber.org/whitehallarearw.