SERVICE is over for the biggest-ever Aberdeen Restaurant Week but the boost it gave to city centre businesses lingers on.
Many of the 81 restaurants, cafes and bars who took part praised the hugely popular foodie fortnight for bringing discerning diners into their venues – and the city centre – at what is traditionally a slow time of the year for hospitality.
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The celebration of the best in the city’s dining – organised by Aberdeen Inspired – wrapped up last night (Sunday, February 4) after 14 days of offering fantastic deals and special menus across an array of cuisines.
Shona Byrne, project manager for Aberdeen Inspired, said she was delighted at the feedback from diners who enjoyed the event and from the businesses who have been applauding its success.
“We knew this was going to be a special Aberdeen Restaurant Week when we were able to sign up more venues than ever before and it has still exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“There has been a real buzz about the foodie fortnight, with so many people taking to social media to pick out their favourite places, tell people about some of the best bargains and hidden gems and generally get behind the initiative.
“At the same time, the feedback we have been receiving from businesses taking part has been glowing, with many of them praising Aberdeen Restaurant Week for not only boosting their trade but also lifting the city centre in general.
“It has been so good, we can’t wait to bring Aberdeen Restaurant Week back again this summer. We’ve started working towards the next fantastic foodie fortnight already.”
Shona added that the success of the festival, which was supported by a £5,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Regional Food Fund, will have attracted thousands of extra people into the heart of the Granite City.
It would also have brought much-needed support for jobs in the hospitality industry at venues ranging from small independents to national chains and the local people they employ.
One of the businesses that benefited by being part of Aberdeen Restaurant Week was one of Aberdeen’s newest restaurants, Resting Brunch Face in the Trinity Centre.
Martin McAuley, director of Watermelon Catering who owns the café as well as Shipyard Street Food, said: “It has been great to be part of a city centre initiative that has promoted and encouraged footfall to the area. Aberdeen Restaurant Week has given us extra exposure and awareness as a new business, and we have had a steady influx of customers asking for the deal across the course of the foodie fortnight.
“Everyone complains about the lack of events in the city centre the likes of Aberdeen Restaurant Week and the up-and-coming Spectra and Nuart Aberdeen are crucial to turning a corner on the opinion that nothing ever happens in the city.”
Also praising the impact of Aberdeen Restaurant Week on the city centre and participating restaurants is Danuta Dobrzanska, sales manager at Revolucion de Cuba at The Academy.
She said: “With the cost-of-living crisis, negative press about bus gates and the state of Union Street, we are in great need of positive news about Aberdeen. Aberdeen Restaurant Week is a great way to promote our venue within the wider hospitality community and give our guests a reason to come back to the city centre.”
Meanwhile, Catherine Shaughnessy, manager of Molly’s Bistro, said the impact of the foodie fortnight would linger on at Douglas Hotel venue.
She said: “We are excited to be launching a new menu in Molly’s towards the end of next month and it will feature some of the dishes that have received fantastic feedback from the Aberdeen Restaurant Week menu. It has been a great start to the year, and we are so excited for what’s to come.”
Mew Garthley, owner of Madame Mews Thai Restaurant on Summer Street, took part in restaurant week for the first time and said the fortnight had boosted bookings.
She said: “We have found it to be a very worthwhile promotion that has had a visible impact on the number of bookings throughout the day and week. In fact, Saturday at the end of the first week was our busiest day in 10 years.”
Samual Dagostim, director of Tucan which recently opened a venue on Belmont Street in addition to its Rosemount restaurant, said both sites had found success in restaurant week with new customers coming in and regulars able to try new dishes.
“We were proud to participate because ARW has become something of value to our communities and local businesses. May it long last and become a local tradition.”
Aberdeen Restaurant Week is set to return for its summer outing later this year. Dates and details will be announced closer to the next foodie fortnight.