I am so thrilled to be a part of Charleston Restaurant Week this year. Last year, I missed out. I waited too late and couldn’t get a reservation at any of the participating establishments. This year, I got in early and got my reservation.
The main reason I’m thrilled to be eating out during restaurant week this year isn’t the fabulous food that I’m sure I’ll have. That’s definitely a reason… But the main reason is because of the story behind the concept.
This time last year, we had just gotten cleared to flush our pipes by the local authorities following the water crisis that hit Charleston and the surrounding areas when a chemical spill contaminated the water source for 300,000 people. It was awful, but we didn’t have it as bad as some. My mom’s water was unaffected forty miles away, so I was able to do my laundry. The Hubs hauled a five gallon jug of water home that he filled up at his office thirty miles away, also unaffected. We used it to brush our teeth with, cook with and drink. One day during that week, it rained pretty hard, so I sat some empty coolers and a big tub out in the driveway to collect rainwater to wash my dishes. Cases of bottled water were sold out everywhere. I didn’t get to wash my hair one day that I would have liked to before work, but really that was about the worst of it. I can’t even imagine what families with small children that didn’t have family to lean on nearby did.
It wasn’t only residences affected by the chemical spill. Many local businesses such as hotels, bars and restaurants were forced shut their doors until the water was safe to use again. Employees didn’t get to work, and as a result, didn’t collect any pay for the week or so during the time the water was contaminated.
In order to restore the public’s enthusiasm for eating out at our local restaurants, a local food distributor, Buzz Foods, came up with the idea for Charleston Restaurant Week. Last year, only a handful of establishments participated, but the response was beyond anyone’s expectations. All the restaurants offered a prix fix menu, with the idea to get people interested in eating somewhere they might not have tried before, or bring people in who hadn’t been there in a while.
The turnout was so great, there was a lot of momentum to have restaurant week again this year. And the number of restaurants participating has more than doubled. There is a Facebook page promoting the event: http://www.facebook.com/eatlocalcwv. You can check out all the menus at the participating restaurants, as well as see pictures of some of the dishes and get more details.
This year, I got a reservation at South Hills Market and Cafe, a place right in my neighborhood I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never eaten at. I did pick up breakfast for take out one morning the Hubs and I were home. It was fantastic, but I decided I needed to support my neighborhood eatery with a butt in a chair during restaurant week (and probably frequently thereafter). I’m trying to decide if I want to make another reservation, but honestly, I can’t decide where to go there are so many fantastic choices.
You might still have time to get a reservation, but you better get on it. It was wildly popular last year, and this year it’s only going to grow, I imagine.