Downtown Dining Week returns as workers come back to the core

Downtown Dining Week returns as workers come back to the core

· The Pulse
By Sharon Yeo
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Downtown Dining Week, an annual event organized by the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (EDBA), returns as more staff are expected to resume working in offices.

Running March 30 to April 10, this year's iteration will see a record 60 restaurants participate. A dozen establishments are involved for the first time, including several restaurants that opened during the pandemic such as 5th Street Food Hall, Envie, Jack's Burger Shack, and May. Restaurants range from fast-casual eateries to more formal dining options, offering multi-course dinner, lunch, and brunch menus for $20, $35, $50, and $65.

The focus of this year's event is on staff returning to the core. "Many workers returning to the office are looking forward to socializing with their coworkers and going for lunch at an old favourite or new spot," said Tracy Hyatt, marketing and communications manager with the EDBA. "If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that people crave that face-to-face interaction and restaurants are so important for socializing."

Last year's Downtown Dining Week coincided with the start of indoor dining restrictions, so the event had to be reconfigured entirely for take-out and delivery. With the lifting of restrictions earlier in March, the vast majority of participating restaurants this year are highlighting table service options. "Profit margins are super slim for restaurants, so nothing beats dine-in where people can order a drink and also try something off the regular menu," said Hyatt.

Still, there are some options for those looking for alternatives to dining indoors, including several restaurants that are equipped with heated patios, such as The Cask & Barrel, Rocky Mountain Icehouse, and The Common, and fast-casual eateries, including A Bite of Brazil, Buok, and District Café, that will offer take-out. Hyatt also recommends checking with individual restaurants that offer table service to confirm if their menus are available for take-out.

Hyatt is hopeful that the community will rally around local restaurants. "Everyone is eager to support our downtown businesses given what they've been through for the past two years and this is a great opportunity to do it."

Photo: A steak dish from May, one of 60 restaurants participating in Downtown Dining Week. (Edmonton Downtown Business Association)