Guyana Restaurant Week (GRW) is once again underway, with the focus this time around being on luring new customers to local eateries where they can indulge in fine dining.
Over the years, Restaurant Week has provided an opportunity for the man or woman on a budget to engage in fine dining at select restaurants. The 10-day event also created a gateway for eateries to add to their customer base.
Restaurateurs and Food and Beverage Managers have testified that the event has been successful for their business, as they noticed new faces returning after GRW would have concluded.
The week and a half event kicked off last Friday, June 22nd, and runs until Sunday, July 1st. Throughout the 10 days, persons will be able to take part in a “culinary celebration” from a specially crafted menu created for lunch and dinner. The lunch prices have been set at $2,000, while dinner can be enjoyed at either $4,000 or $5,000 per person. These prices include VAT and service charges.
Meals are prepared from different cuisines inspired from around the world, with fresh ingredients from the local market.
During this year’s GRW, participating restaurants will be offering specials on wines paired with the meals, through a partnership with Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), allowing a variety of wines to be available at special prices. The wines are being retailed at $4,000 per bottle and $1,000 per glass.
The eating establishments participating in this year’s Restaurant Week are: Aagman Restaurant, Antonio’s Grille, Cara Lodge, Roraima Duke Lodge, New Thriving Restaurant, OMG, Herdmanston Lodge, The Vintage, Windjammer Restaurant, Ignite Bar and Grill (Pegasus Hotel), Grand Coastal Hotel, Tare Mare Restaurant (Marriott Hotel), Xie Xie Restaurant and newcomers Petit Four Bakery and Café, Bistro Café and Bar, Café Bellvana, Java Coffee Bar and the Hibiscus Restaurant.
Some of the participating restaurants have been a part of the GRW from the time it was introduced in 2015 by the Tourism Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG).
A visit to a few of these restaurants confirmed that the event is one anticipated by Guyanese foodies and has been a great opportunity for restaurants to cash in on.
“It has its benefits and profits and over the years. It has [helped] us to get new customers. We have seen our customer base gradually growing after every restaurant week,” said Ryan Gangaram, Food and Beverage Manager at Grand Costal Hotel. He stated that Grand Coastal has seen at least 30 percent of customers returning after GRW.
Gangaram, in an interview with Sunday Stabroek last Friday, related that the marketing of the event has allowed it to grow over the years. He explained that for his restaurant, it is not only about garnering new customers, but an opportunity to receive feedback on their service, food and dining experience.
“Everyone’s taste buds are not the same so we hand out comment cards and ask customers to give us their opinion. In this way, we are able to make adjustments, know what is wanted or not and improve our customer services,” Gangaram related.
Further, he indicated that the meals that are a hit would be included on their menus for events such as ‘Guyana Flavours,’ which is held on Wednesdays, and their Sunday brunch.
The Food and Beverage Manager also indicated that their in-house guests also take advantage of the Restaurant Week specials.
Cara Lodge also reported noticing customers returning at least once a month, said Lionel John, a waiter. “We see they come back with their colleagues or return with families,” he said.
Supervisor of the restaurant Denise Staglon explained that participating in GRW has proven to be a success over the years and noted that they have been able to reap many benefits.
“People like the food, the presentation, the quality of service and the atmosphere and they return after coming for that week… Restaurant week helps us to show what we have to offer,” said Staglon.
While this year the hotel is not offering a lunch special because the facility is fully booked for other events, the Assistant Manager Oliver Pollydore, reported that many persons showed up on Friday, hoping to participate in their lunch special. However, this year, Cara Lodge is only offering dinner specials.
At Aagman Restaurant on Sheriff Street, the General Manager Suyash Asthana, said GRW creates an avenue for persons to explore foods from a different culture. The restaurant specialises in Asian cuisine.
Asked if he has seen any positives from GRW, Asthana instantly responded, “No doubt it has… and it is always a great opportunity for us.”
He explained that while customers might not return immediately after GRW, they would return for special occasions and bring friends and family.
“They come for special family events—birthdays, anniversary, graduation they return… We have seen our customer base growing by 80 to 90 percent and some become loyal customers,” he disclosed.
However, he said that while he would have loved to introduce new foods to their menu as part of the event, the importation costs for ingredients are high. This, he noted, should be an area the GRW committee looks at going forward.
Asthana also encouraged other leading dining outlets to participate in GWR since it is a “giant marketing opportunity to grow the[ir] business.”
Alicia Stewart, proprietor of the Xie Xie Restaurant, known for its unique fusion of Asian and Guyanese cuisine, has seen approximately 30 percent of first-time customers returning after exploring what the restaurant offers during GRW.
“Yes it has helped. We have seen people return but there is still room for more people from the public to come out and experience what Restaurant Week is all about,” she commented. She explained that after Restaurant Week concludes, the traffic in her restaurant would fluctuate as customers would return from time to time.
Like her competitors, her restaurant would also make changes to their menu to accommodate foods that were well received during GRW.
She pointed out that while they do not make a significant profit from the exclusive menu created for GRW, they are able to provide locals with options and an opportunity to enjoy fine dining.
THAG and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) have collaborated over the years to successfully host GRW, which is held under the slogan ‘Explore, Eat and Repeat.’
This year persons can participate in GRW’s “Snap and Share” social media competition to win a $40,000 feast at a select restaurant.
To enter, individuals are required to post photographs on Instagram illustrating their experience, accompanied by the hashtag #officialgrw. The competition began at 7 am on June 22nd, 2018 and ends at 12 am on July 1st, 2018.
The rules and requirements of the competition can be viewed on GRW’s website, at http://www.guyanarestaurantweek.com/instagram-competition.
A guide listing the participating restaurants is also available.