KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City tradition returns starting on Jan. 8 and lasting through Jan. 17.
"I think Restaurant Week is more important now this year than it's ever been," said David Lopez, vice president of the Greater KC Restaurant Association and general manager of Manny's Mexican Restaurant.
They're ready for an important stretch to start 2021, coming out of 2020.
"It's the most difficult thing we've had to go through at least in my 15, or so years of being involved in this restaurant," Lopez said.
The pandemic has taken its toll on Lopez and his employees.
"It's been extremely difficult. At the very beginning of this, we have to tell, you know, 65 to 70 employees that work for us that you have to go on unemployment. We can't take care of you anymore," Lopez said.
His restaurant is a close-knit clan, a bond that doesn't have a traditional family tree.
"This is how they make their living day-to-day, and they need the money they need the interaction. They need it so they can keep food in their refrigerators, keep their kids in school, keep the lights on and that's something that we value," Lopez explained.
Ten months into the pandemic, they’ve adapted.
"We evolved in a sense of carryout and curbside, giving ourselves a digital platform so that we can communicate with our customers and with our community with what everyone needs to do right now, which is through your phone. If you're not one-touch access then you're going to lose this game," Lopez explained.
Ahead of a big week for Manny's and other participating restaurants, they want customers to know one thing.
"We want people to feel safe in our restaurants. We want people to feel safe when they come to curbside for carryout, that little bit of normalcy goes a very very long way and food is such a comforting thing," Lopez said.
He's excited to see the community support each other this week.
"The people of this town are what makes Kansas City, I think, the best place to live on Earth. We have all walks of life, we have so many different cultures. We have wonderful people that does so much for this community, so many great plans, so many advocacy groups and different things like that, there is a place for everyone in Kansas City," Lopez said.
We've created a Facebook group, We're Open Kansas City, where members of the community can post businesses serving their community.