Meet Chicago Northwest, the Northwest suburbs' convention and visitors' bureau, will hold its first annual Chicago Northwest Restaurant Week from Thursday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, March 2 to help 33 participating businesses overcome what's typically the slowest time of year for their industry.
The sit-down restaurants have put together fixed-price, three-course lunch and dinner specials ranging from $15 to $35.
The complete list of restaurants and their specials can be found at dinechicagonw.com. They are spread among several different villages including Arlington Heights, Elk Grove Village, Itasca, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Roselle and Wood Dale.
Dave Parulo, president of Meet Chicago Northwest, said two factors in particular conspire to make this a slow time of year for restaurants -- a desire by customers to save money after the holidays and cold, winter weather.
But the hope is that rich meals at affordable prices can overcome these factors, he said.
"We're very excited about it. I'm particularly glad we're doing it this year," Parulo said.
Jeremy Donaker, general manager of Birch River Grill in Arlington Heights, said the impact of winter weather on restaurant turnout can't be overestimated. He believes Restaurant Week's fixed-price meals can give people reason to go out.
"It's much easier to leave the house when you know exactly how much you're going to spend," Donaker said.
Though this has turned out to be an especially bad winter, Restaurant Week has been an idea rattling around for the past two years and entered an intensive planning phase last fall, Parulo said.
He's upfront about the fact that the idea is borrowed from restaurant weeks held in Chicago and other neighboring regions, but Meet Chicago Northwest wanted its own week to stand alone.
"In particular, we didn't want to get lost in the shuffle," he said.
Chicago's restaurant week recently ended, but Meet Chicago Northwest wanted to start after Valentine's Day. That's really the last occasion restaurants can expect an upturn in business until the warmer weather breaks, Parulo said.
Though a second year is almost a sure thing already, the organization hopes to use its experience from this year to improve and grow the event.
"As soon as this is over, we'll reach out to our partners and ask for their feedback," Parulo said.
Depending on their hours and locations, different restaurants are hoping for bigger boosts during either weekday lunchtimes or for dinners during the two weekends, he said.