Celebrate Fresno Restaurant Week(s)

The Fresno Regional Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA) was formed in late 2010 to educate, market and inform the public on the importance of supporting locally owned and independent businesses. One result of this group is Fresno Restaurant Week, now in its second year.

Actually it’s Fresno Restaurant Weeks, but whose counting.

Chef, Mike Shackelford, often visits with Trelio patrons each evening after serving the main dishes. Located in downtown Clovis, Trelio is one of 25 Fresno area restaurants participating in the two-week promotion.

In an effort to educate the area community about independent local restaurants, FRIBA along with six sponsors, have listed 25 eateries for the 2012 Fresno Restaurant Week, July 20-Aug. 3. Amy Huerta, who works for the City of Fresno as the Local Business Initiative Manager, says that FRIBA serves all kinds of local businesses; Fresno Restaurant Week is just one way to grow area commerce and provide traction to develop the organization.

“I work for the City of Fresno, promoting independent businesses,” Huerta said, “and while I am not paid by the city to assist FRIBA, I do work with local business owners on how to develop the organization. My role is to help strategize Fresno Restaurant Week, including managing the promotion and media. I also partner with the organization to find innovative ways to educate our community.”

All 25 restaurants have paid a $500 fee in a cooperative marketing action plan. Huerta believes FRIBA not only has tremendous growth potential for the sponsors and businesses who participate, but also sees the organization developing and expanding to include other smaller cafes, bistros or restaurants who could not afford this year’s promotion.

“The impact of events like Fresno Restaurant Week are so important to understand. It’s an example of local businesses banding together in order to promote each other, and by doing so, improve the local community.”
–Amy Huerta, City of Fresno’s Local Business Initiative Manager.

“We are only a start-up organization,” Huerta said. “While we sent cards of ‘Save The Date’ to over 200 restaurants and actually visited many of those, not all could participate. We hope to expand Fresno Restaurant Week to twice a year. Hopefully more will be able to participate and the cost per business should go down. Our hope is to include even more smaller independent owners.”

According to Huerta, the $500 fee the 25 restaurants paid is projected to provide about $12,000 in advertising. Each participating restaurant posts a poster listing all participating eateries. They all put aside competition for the power of group marketing.

The auto industry learned a piece of this strategy years ago when they banded together and now can be located in auto centers rather than spaced miles apart.

Piazza Del Pane has a $22 pre-fix dinner menu which includes an appetizer, choice of entree, dessert, and a glass of wine.

FRIBA is not just for restaurants. According to their FRIBA’s web site, “Research shows that when a dollar is spent at a locally owned and independent business, on average that dollar will re-circulate three times the amount of money back into our local economy when compared to that same dollar spent at a chain business.”

This is true whether purchases are made from one of the local farmer’s markets to the guy who repairs shoes. A list of the FRIBA membership is on their web site; each pays $150 annual fee.

“The impact of events like Fresno Restaurant Week are so important to understand,” Huerta said. “It’s an example of local businesses banding together in order to promote each other, and by doing so, improve the local community. This is a great, innovative way for the people of Fresno and Clovis to try restaurants they wouldn’t normally visit and try new things. And it is good for the restaurants to try new price fix menus.”

Other cities across the country have organized restaurant weeks, including New York City and San Francisco. In fact, the Open Table, an Internet restaurant reservations site has a special web address just to organize Restaurant Week Specials and Prix-Fixe Menu Offers from Coast to Coast.

So Fresno County, while the chain restaurants like Denny’s, Outback Steakhouse or Olive Garden might be your favorite, consider opening up your wallet or purse for one of the locally owned independent diners, bistros, restaurants or cafes. Invite a friend or couple to join up for a night on the town. Most of the Fresno Restaurant Week participants have their special menus posted online. Scroll down to review each one, choose a place to eat and make a reservation. The coffers of Fresno County will be glad you did.

Salut!

In an effort to educate the area community about independent local restaurants, FRIBA along with six sponsors, have listed 25 eateries for the 2012 Fresno Restaurant Week, July 20-Aug. 3. (Illustration used by permission)

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