DENVER (KDVR) — Restaurant week starts Friday in Denver and patrons are excited to celebrate the culinary industry.

The goal of this week is simple: to put a spotlight on Denver’s food scene. There are over 220 places participating. This year, restaurants across Denver could really use the business because of the effects of the pandemic.

“It’s a chance for us to showcase this culinary scene in Denver and let the world know we have a culinary scene to be reckoned with,” said Rachel Benedick, Visit Denver’s executive vice president of sales and services.

Pandemic effects still hurting restaurants

Denver, a new destination for foodies, is celebrating its culinary scene and small businesses with plenty of incentives for patrons who hit the restaurants this week.

“This is an opportunity for our restaurants to showcase what they have and get people to try a bunch of different restaurants and try different neighborhoods and go out of their comfort zones,” said Dax Craig, president of Pie Insurance, the main sponsor of the week.

The Denver Restaurant Association broke down the numbers on how the industry is being affected statewide. It said higher costs are still having a negative effect on Colorado restaurants.

The association provided these statistics:

  • 77% of Colorado restaurants have increased menu prices, while 57% have changed the food and beverage items offered on the menu
  • 50% of restaurants reduced hours of operation on days that they are open, while 43% closed on days that they would normally be open
  • 37% of operators say they postponed plans for expansion 
  • 50% of operators say they stopped operating at full capacity 

Restaurants also face further struggles with profitability, according to the association:

  • Despite the wide variety of mitigating actions taken to address higher costs, a strong majority of Colorado restaurant operators do not expect their profitability to improve in 2023, and 57% of operators think they will be less profitable in 2023. 

So this week is a needed highlight on the restaurant industry.

“We are still struggling as a hospitality industry, so everything from workforce to inflation, all of these things affecting us in our daily lives, are really affecting our businesses. And so many of our restaurants are small businesses, so it really is more important than ever to support,” Benedick said.

Denver Restaurant Week deals help bring business

Their goal is to have something for everyone, and that’s the reasoning behind the three price points for dining: $25, $35 or $45 dollars for a three-course meal at all participating locations.

“We’ve worked really hard to make this something that’s accessible. If you really think about it, what we are asking you to do between tomorrow and March 12 is go out and have some great meals in your city,” Benedick said.