KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As diners enjoy meals at participating restaurants over the next 10 days, their dollars go further than they realize. Visit KC and other groups launch their 13th annual Kansas City Restaurant Week event Friday.
The event serves three main purposes. First, it raises money for charities.
In 12 years, the event has raised $3 million. Each year, the Visit KC Foundation and Greater KC Restaurant Association Educational Foundation benefit from the event. Both organizations sponsor workforce development programs in the food and hospitality industry.
“We really focus on how we can get that workforce development back,” Visit KC Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wilson said. “Covid, of course, has been really rough on the hospitality industry, in general, restaurants, hotels, everything.”
Organizers include a third charity each year. In 2022, Guadalupe Centers will benefit from KC Restaurant Week.
A second goal of the week, which runs from Jan. 14 to 23, is to get customers through the door of restaurants during what is typically a slow, post-holiday winter season. Restaurateurs remain optimistic about 2022 as a whole.
“It’s a great chance to showcase your restaurant to a lot of different customers,” Lance McFarland, co-owner of Marina 27 on Lake Lotawana, said.
His restaurant is typically busiest during “lake season,” when the waterfront patio is most enjoyable.
“They can see what a great venue we have for the summer time and in lake season they come back and enjoy us again," McFarland said.
Exposing restaurants to new customers is the third branch of KC Restaurant Week’s mission. Wilson encourages diners to try a spot they’ve never visited in the past.
“It is a great opportunity to put our product out in front of some people who might not have been able to try it before,” Seth Welch, the general manager of Plate Italiano Moderno in Brookside, said. “Get some new clientele in, show them what we do, give them a taste of a little bit of everything.”
Restaurant Week will be particularly important to Plate Italiano Moderno as it plans to open a second location in Leawood’s Park Place later this year.
In 2022, 200 restaurants are participating in the event, including 23 first-time participants. All of the restaurants offer either a $15, $35 or $45 fixed menu showcasing some of their specialties, often including multiple courses.
Diners can use the KC Restaurant Week app or website to search for restaurants by price point, style, location and more.
As the event takes place during a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit KC encourages people to “dine your way,” by choosing either to dine-in or carry-out from participating restaurants.
Monday, doctors from the University of Kansas Health System recommended ordering food to-go during the Restaurant Week event.
“Any time people gather together in a public space without a mask on, it makes me nervous,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Stites said.
Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention Dr. Dana Hawkinson asked people to “be as strict as possible” when following guidelines like socially distancing, masking, hand washing during the current omicron-related surge of COVID-19 cases.