By Karyn DeFranco
Schenectady County recently participated in the Eighth Annual Schenectady Restaurant Week, which has a significant positive impact on Schenectady County’s economy every year. A total of 23 restaurants participated in Restaurant Week, set up by The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation and The Chamber of Schenectady County.
The Chamber’s website enabled people to view the special $20.13 menu options from participating restaurants, which included Perreca’s Bakery, Café NOLA, Cornell’s, Clinton’s Ditch and many more. Nearly 7,000 diners ate in the participating restaurants over the course of the week, resulting in the average economic impact of nearly $250,000.
According to the Chamber of Schenectady County President Chuck Steiner, 17 percent of people surveyed during Restaurant Week were eating at one of the restaurants for the first time, and 50 percent “would not have dined out that evening if it were not for the special Restaurant Week pricing.”
A frequent participant in Restaurant Week is More Perreca’s restaurant. Perreca’s Bakery was started in 1913 by the current owners, Maria and Anthony Papa’s grandparents, and it has been run by the family ever since. The brother-sister partnership has perfected the art of making freshly baked bread, cupcakes, pastries, soups and sandwiches daily, while also creating a friendly atmosphere in their bakery.
In 2009, Perreca’s expanded into a restaurant that Maria Papa described as an “Italian grandmother’s kitchen” feel, with “hearty, large portions in a really simple but good way.” Papa says Perreca’s “was very pleased with the customer response to Schenectady’s Restaurant Week.” Every year, the Chamber of Schenectady County publishes all of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week with their respective menus and, according to Maria Papa, “It appeared more customers this year really researched their options before deciding on where they were dining throughout the week.”
Restaurant Week comes just at the right time for restaurant owners in Schenectady. Since January and February are infamously economically distressed months for the restaurant industry, Restaurant Week comes at a time when consumers are ready for a little indulgence after a couple of months of paying off Christmas bills.
Perreca’s and other restaurants participating in Restaurant Week saw an increase in the number of families coming in to dine. Restaurant Week helps stimulate business for local restaurants in a time when many restaurants may either have to lay staff off, or rely on side catering businesses to keep business afloat.