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Eat & Drink

Mar 24, 2009 1:45 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Restaurant Week arrives just in time for all concerned

Mar 24, 2009 1:45 PM

With apologies to Charles Dickens, it’s tempting to cast the upcoming seventh annual Hamptons Restaurant Week as the best of times arriving just in time to take on the worst of times.

Or, as WordHampton’s founder and president, Steve Haweeli, puts it: “It’s a good deal when times are good, and an even better deal when times are bad.”

Running from Sunday, March 29, through Sunday, April 5, the regional promotion created by Mr. Haweeli and the staff at his public relations and marketing firm features 68 participating restaurants this year, each offering a three-course prix fixe for $24.95 all night, every night, except on Saturday, April 4, when the prix fixe will be offered only until 7 p.m.

Each restaurant offers its own menu selections during the week, and some restaurants will offer a special discounted bottle of Long Island wine from participating wineries Pellegrini and Wölffer Estate. Both vineyards will also offer a discount on select Restaurant Week wines bought in their tasting rooms.

The “Hamptons” label is for trademark purposes only these days, as participating restaurants and other businesses, including lodgings and Hamptons Luxury Liner transportation, are spread out across the South Fork and beyond to Baiting Hollow in the west and from Riverhead out

to Greenport and beyond on the North Fork.

“The good news is, it’s about the same number of restaurants this year,” Mr. Haweeli said in a telephone interview. “There are plenty of choices, from family style to top restaurants ... North Fork Table and Inn, 1770 House, Nick & Toni’s, Stone Creek Inn—these are icons, to name only a few.

“Nothing much has changed,” he continued. “Restaurant weeks are popular all around the country: It’s a feel-good thing, and people look forward to it. The way things have been going, everyone can use a feel-good thing.”

The Hamptons edition of Restaurant Week, based on the successful model of New York’s restaurant week, “always offers an opportunity to go to restaurants you haven’t been to before,” Mr. Haweeli said. “Where you might not gamble a big chunk of whatever disposable income you might still have on a restaurant you aren’t familiar with, for $24.95 you might be more willing to check it out, and maybe even try another restaurant in the same week, all for less than one meal at either one of those places at any other time of year.

“For restaurateurs, the idea is to get people to check out their food, service and decor,” he said, “and convince them they would like to come back.”

He pointed out that the new restaurant at Montauk Yacht Club, Gulf Coast Kitchen, had been planning to open during the week before Easter, but is now opening midway through Restaurant Week to introduce the operation to the East End community during a time of more activity and experimentation.

As Executive Chef Michael Domitrovich explained: “I see Hamptons Restaurant Week as our chance to show the East End exactly who we are at Gulf Coast Kitchen. The Montauk Yacht Club is throwing its doors open to the public, and I want our new restaurant to be the heart of the club, a place where people feel warm, welcome and satisfied.”

In East Quogue, Mr. Haweeli said, Dockers restaurant opens early every year in order to be part of Restaurant Week, and starts the special price before the promotion gets underway for everyone else. Different restaurants will extend the special, Mr. Haweeli said, and typically promote that fact in-house; if enough do, WordHampton will post them on the Restaurant Week website, hamptonsrestaurantweek.com.

This year, he said, the website includes the Open Table icon alongside many of the participating restaurants, giving diners the option of using the Open Table online reservation service.

One thing is changing this year: The cost of the three-course prix fixe will now be $24.95, up from last year’s $21.95. The reason for the price increase, Mr. Haweeli said, is the higher cost of food for the restaurateurs. “Flour, rice, butter—the price of everything is way up for the restaurant owners,” Mr. Haweeli said, “and $24.95 is still a very attractive price for three courses at any of these restaurants.”

He pointed out that WordHampton’s wider fall promotion, Long Island Restaurant Week, included the $24.95 price tag and had its best numbers ever, in spite of the gathering economic storm.

In the wake of the success of Long Island and Hamptons restaurant weeks, a number of towns to the west are now putting together their own restaurant week promotions, Mr. Haweeli said, but WordHampton has some advantages for its two events. The extraordinary four months of effort that goes into preparing for and organizing the fall and spring promotions, he said, sets the two promotions apart. And WordHampton uses money raised from participation fees for media buys to get the word out.

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1770 House is one of the best restaurants on Long Island. Amazing upstairs or downstairs.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 25, 09 4:19 PM