A popular Edmonton event that encourages people to get out and grab a bite is adapting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spring edition of Downtown Dining Week kicks off Tuesday and runs until April 25.
The event comes amid public health restrictions that ban indoor dining across Alberta. However, delivery and takeout are still allowed, as well as outdoor dining on patios.
More than 45 restaurants are taking part in Downtown Dining Week and will offer takeout and patio-friendly menus. Twenty-six of the restaurants will have their patios open for al fresco dining.
The executive director of the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton said Downtown Dining Week provides a much-needed boost to the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Having to open and close their doors to indoor dining has proven costly, Puneeta McBryan said.
“As we look ahead to the next few years, a thriving restaurant scene will be absolutely vital to our city’s economic recovery and success, so this is a critical time to support our restauranteurs who have worked tirelessly to contribute to downtown’s economic and social vibrancy,” McBryan said in a media release Tuesday.
Participating restaurants will feature special prix-fixe brunch, lunch and dinner menus for $20, $35, $50 and $65.
Xavier Aleba is the bar manager at Drunken Ox Sober Cat. He said the restaurant, participating in DDW, has recently extended its patio for the warmer weather.
“We make an ongoing joke here that we’ve gotten really good at closing and reopening the restaurant, but it’s a talent we don’t want to use,” he laughed.
Aleba said Edmonton’s cooler spring weather caused concern for enticing patrons out to the patio.
“We have a lot of heaters right now. We just want people to feel like it’s the same service inside, we just carry it out onto the patio.
“Community support is everything. It’s great to see one positive thing come out of a terrible pandemic…that’s people coming together to support us.”
This spring, a new addition to the event will also see fast-casual restaurants that typically offer counter service provide $20 all-day combos. Nine restaurants will offer this service, including BUOK, Rosewood Food and Tiffin.
The DBA has also partnered with five downtown hotels to offer exclusive staycation packages. Participating hotels include the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, JW Marriott Ice District and the Westin. Packages start at $239 and include one-night accommodation and a multi-course in-room dining experience.
People interesting in taking part in Downtown Dining Week must book a patio reservation or order takeout directly through the restaurant.
A full list of participating restaurants and hotels can be found on the DBA’s website.