When Johanna Calfee, co-owner and managing editor of Prototype Media, which publishes Lynchburg Living magazine, along with four other regional publications, visited Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband during restaurant week, she knew instantly that something similar would work in Lynchburg. “We got to dine at places we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to due to the price-fixed menus offered,” says Calfee. “So we ended up eating out at several different really delicious restaurants to try more of the local flavor.”
Calfee set about brainstorming with the Prototype staff about how they would want Lynchburg’s week to look and feel. The warm week of June 23-29 seemed perfect for the inaugural event. “With the college students gone from the area, we saw it as a chance for locals to truly experience the flavor of our area’s independently owned restaurants with smaller crowds to contend with,” she says. The results is Lynchburg Restaurant Week (LRW).
Calfee and the Prototype team approached potential sponsors and created a web presence for the event. Discover Lynchburg, the area’s marketing tourism driver, got behind LRW. Beckie Nix, director of the Lynchburg Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Discover Lynchburg is excited to promote LRW because culinary travel is a very profitable arm of the tourism industry and something they are pursuing to attract visitors to Lynchburg.
“It’s almost as simple as saying ‘we all have to eat.’ But beyond that reality, food is such a part of our cultural and social lifestyle,” says Nix. “With food we comfort, encourage, serve, share, romance, and celebrate.”
The only qualifications for restaurants to participate are that they be independent, locally owned and serve dinner, and within a few weeks 21 had signed up. Each will offer a “3 for $15” and/or “3 for $25” prix fixe dinner menu, serving two (or more) options per course.
“We hope people head out to more than one restaurant during the week,” Calfee said. “The point is for them to get out and experience the local restaurant scene in a new, interesting and truly affordable way.”
Marisa Jones, owner of participating Catalano’s Delicatessen, is excited for the opportunity to showcase Catalano’s’ dinner offerings, normally available only through catering. She is a Lynchburg native and chef by trade who returned with her husband after working in Charlottesville and New York City.
“We chose to open our first restaurant in downtown Lynchburg because we are fully invested in the revitalization of urban culture. We saw the huge amount of opportunity that exists here,” says Jones.
“The goal of Lynchburg Restaurant Week is to create a much-anticipated cultural event that our area not only enjoys, but also serves to elevate the quality of local restaurants we have in the public’s mind,” Calfee said.
Lynchburg Restaurant Week, presented by Lynchburg Living and Discover Lynchburg, will take place June 23-29. A portion of the proceeds from LRW will be donated to Meals on Wheels.
Prix fixe menus from all 21 restaurants are online at LynchburgRestaurantWeek.com