Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita Restaurant Week will return – with changes – in January

Wichita Restaurant Week will return, but not until January.

The event, put on as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of South Central Kansas, is scheduled for Jan. 22-31 at a long list of restaurants across the city. This year, organizers are making some changes they hope will enhance the event.

This is the third installment for Wichita Restaurant Week since it was first put on in June 2013. It happened again in October 2014.

Organizers learned during the first two events what did and didn’t work in Wichita, said Lynne Smith, director of partnership development at Visit Wichita, which is sponsoring the event along with the the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association.

This year, instead of offering three levels of prix fixe (price fixed) meals, organizers are allowing restaurants to set their own prices. They’ll still serve pre-set meals, but they must include three courses – an appetizer, an entree and a dessert – and the restaurants will offer a few options in each category.

“I bench marked a lot of restaurant weeks nationwide and found that many did the three-course meal so that when a customer goes into a restaurant, they get more of a dining experience rather than race in, get your entree and race out,” Smith said.

Smith said she has firm commitments from 13 restaurants so far and has verbal commitments from another 13. Among those already on board: Cafe Bel Ami, Molino’s, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, Piccadilly, Public at the Brickyard, Gianni Bacci’s, The Hill, Wine Dive and Hungry Heart. She’ll release a complete list soon and will publish menus at the end of the month.

Ten percent of money raised from restaurant week menus will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club. This year, if people want to donate but don’t want to order the per-determined meals, restaurants will give them a special donation envelope.

Also new: Organizers are asking participants to take selfies or shoot pictures of their food from the restaurant week menus while they’re visiting and post them. Those who do will be entered to win $50 gift certificates.

Look for more details as Wichita Restaurant Week gets closer and follow along at http://wichitarestaurantweek.com/.