Restaurant Week to Benefit Downtown Eateries

To Tulsa, a reminder: Several of the city’s most beloved independent restaurants are located downtown, open and ready for your business.
That is what Downtown Tulsa Unlimited and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma want to say with Devour Downtown, an eight-day restaurant week when participating downtown eateries will offer discounts to hungry Tulsans who dare to dine downtown. The event will run from Jan. 19-27.
“We’re trying to make people aware of the restaurants we have downtown,” said Heather Pingry, vice president of promotions and communications at DTU. “Usually, if you can get a good deal on something, that’s a pretty good incentive to get down here.”
The 18 participating restaurants will offer lunch specials for $5 or $10, and/or dinner specials for $15. A portion of Devour Downtown proceeds will benefit the Tulsa Police Department’s downtown bicycle patrol.
Devour Downtown aims to give restaurants located within the IDL publicity and exposure during a historically skinny month while making up for any slump in business continuing construction on downtown streets and sidewalks might cause, Pingry said.
“A lot of our restaurants downtown have suffered lately. There is a lot of construction downtown, and restaurants are waiting for the arena to open to bring more people downtown on nights and weekends. [Devour Downtown] is just a way of trying to help get the word out there.”
Lola Palazzo, proprietor of Lola’s at the Bowery, 5 E. Brady St., was happy to sign on for the event.
“I want to do anything I can to get someone in my restaurant,” she said. “I’m having a hard time getting people to come over here. I could call Lola’s the right restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks.”
“Downtown Tulsa is a destination for sure for people who want to have a good dinner – there are a lot of great restaurants in this town. People just don’t want to come across the bridge for lunch. If you’re not at Fifth and Main, you may as well just forget about it,” she added.
Palazzo said she was forced to stop lunch service Jan. 1 due to a lack of downtown diners willing to make the trek to the Brady District. She began to offer specials during dinner hours earlier this month, starting with a half-price menu Monday nights.
“We’re also going to have beer specials, all to see if we can’t get some interest over here. Monday nights are kind of a funny night for people in town because there are a lot of restaurants that are closed. We’re going to try it for awhile and see if that might work” to get some interest.
Craig Baxter, owner of Baxter’s Interurban Grill, 717 S. Houston Ave., Ste. 100, is looking for publicity and to “refresh people’s memories that there are fine eating establishments downtown.”
“And, most of them are independent,” he said. “It’s always good to bring people back downtown and remind them we’re here.”
Elliot Nelson’s El Guapo’s Cantina is another dog in the fight for downtown restaurant clientelle.
“I think it could help boost business and get people familiar with the restaurants downtown – let them get to know what we have to offer,” said Jenny Sullivan, a manager at El Guapo’s, 332 E. First St.
“I think there are a lot of people in Tulsa who just don’t think about coming downtown, especially people who live out south. This will maybe get them to come down here and try it and find out how good it is,” she said.
Though Devour Downtown isn’t the first restaurant week for Tulsa – Brookside held a restaurant week in 2007 – it is a first for downtown.
“A lot of other downtown organizations do restaurant weeks similar to this to promote the restaurants. January seemed to be an unofficial restaurant week month,” Pingry said. “We wanted to pick a slow time for the restaurants to hopefully pick up their business. Leading up to Christmas they’ve got tons of business – we’re trying to pick a time when they could really use a boost.”
“Hopefully we’ll get some encouragement for a lot of people who are down here to eat out, and hopefully people who don’t normally come downtown might, just to have dinner one night,” Pingry said. ?

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