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What is "Restaurant Week"?

Restaurant Week: Questions and Answers

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What is "Restaurant Week"?

A "Restaurant Week" is an event where a group of restaurants in an area coordinate to offer a set menu for a certain meal, at a fixed price. This price is usually lower than the price you'd ordinarily pay at a restaurant.

Do I need to leave a tip during Restaurant Week? Should I leave more for the waiter or waitress since I'm receiving a discounted meal?

You should definitely tip your server during Restaurant Week at least what's standard for your area, although there's debate about whether you should leave a little more than usual, since you're receiving a discounted meal. (Find tipping guidelines here.) In the United States, some restaurants add an extra service charge to their bill during Restaurant Week to account for discounted meal, so check your bill for that as you're calculating your tip. If no additional service charge was added, tipping on the higher end of the range you generally tip in is a nice thing to do -- but you have no obligation to do so.

Common Misconceptions about Restaurant Week

  • Restaurant Week always lasts a week.
    Restaurant Weeks can last less than a week or more than a week.
  • Restaurant Week is just for dinner.
    Many restaurants offer a lunch menu for Restaurant Week.
  • There is always just one Restaurant Week price.
    Pricing decisions vary by area. Some events feature one set price for a three course lunch, and a different price for a three course dinner. Other events feature a tier of pricing for one or both meals.
  • You can only order from the set menu.
    Most restaurants continue to make their regular menu available during Restaurant Week.
  • Only expensive restaurants participate in Restaurant Week.
    While that was the original intent, restaurants of all price-points participate in these events today.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Restaurant Week?

On the plus side, Restaurant Week encourages diners to try new restaurants, and in some cases creates an affordable way to try expensive restaurants. They can also help a restaurant by filling tables.

On the negative side, some diners prefer not to order from a Restaurant Week menu as many restaurants keep costs down due to the fixed pricing constraint. Restaurants can be crowded during these events. And smaller restaurants can find it difficult to manage their regular offerings along with a Restaurant Week menu.

When was the first Restaurant Week, and where was it?

The first "Restaurant Week" was in New York City in 1992. Many cities and other locales have launched their own version of these events since then.
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