The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce has always had an interest in hosting a restaurant week in the city but was unable to pinpoint a good time to hold it. This year the Chamber is asking diners to celebrate Concord’s growing restaurant scene during Concord Dines Out, which will run at participating restaurants from Sunday, Jan. 22, though Sunday, Jan. 29.
The Chamber opted to run the week-long event in conjunction with the Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament, which will be held in the city the weekend of Jan. 27. The inaugural dining event also falls during New Hampshire Wine Week and includes the night of the Winter Fling at NHTI.
“It’s a great way to get those folks into our local wonderful restaurants,” said Valerie Blake, vice president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. “Plus it gives our community a great opportunity to get out during what could be considered the ‘cabin fever’ time of the year, to enjoy the restaurants.”
Eleven restaurants have signed on to participate in the first year of the event and the number continues to grow, Blake said.
“We were hoping to get about a dozen [restaurants] the first time out,” she said. “It’s a new thing so you have to sort of prove yourself.”
Diners enjoy restaurant weeks because they are flexible and do not require tickets, Blake said. All participating restaurants will be given a sign bearing the Concord Dines Out logo to alert diners of the meal deals inside. Each restaurant will offer prix fixe menus at lunch for $10 and dinner for $20.
“That’s a darn good lunch price for Concord and a darn good dinner price for Concord,” Blake said. “The goal was to have as many people participate as possible and this seemed to be the way to do it.”
Brian Shea, owner of The Barley House, said he stands behind the price point set by the Chamber.
“There will be deals for people to come out and try a particular restaurant or multiple restaurants, so we want to make it affordable,” Shea said.
Sue O’Donnell, general manager of the Granite Restaurant at the Centennial Inn, called Concord Dines Out a great opportunity for folks who haven’t dined at the restaurant before to experience what it has to offer. The Granite Restaurant, O’Donnell said, is perceived as a very expensive dining spot and she is hoping that, with the lower price points of restaurant week, diners will peruse the regular menu to see the “reasonable prices” of their full- and half-portion dishes.
“My goal is not have people think of us as just a place to come for special occasions — even though I love that, I would like to get them in here more often,” O’Donnell said.
Taking part in the week-long dining event was also a good way to lend support to the Chamber.
“We try to get as involved in the community as much as possible,” O’Donnell said. “We thought this was just one more way of doing that.”
Both The Barley House and Granite Restaurant have yet to finalize their restaurant week menus.
“There are lots of places to dine in Concord … a lot of chain restaurants — but [a restaurant week] also helps bring some attention to those unique restaurants in the area,” O’Donnell said. The Chamber hopes Concord Dines Out becomes an annual January event.