The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week just wrapped up its leftovers for this year. The last two weekends in September, one hundred restaurants participated across nearly every neighborhood throughout the borough.
Part of the Discover Queens campaign, participating restaurants invited local residents to eat three full courses of either lunch or dinner for only $25. Forest Hills was not to be underserved, with thirteen places of its own dishing out the great deals.
A first time participant, at 115-20 Queens Boulevard, had a fantastic experience with the promotion. Owner and manager Marco DelPeschio said he saw a definitive jump in business with the special menu they created just for those days.
He said he liked the event because it exposed people to new dishes and specials and encourages them to try things like their special fish stew, which they otherwise might not be willing to spend full price on.
"We will definitely do it again," DelPeschio said, when asked if they would participate in next year's restaurant week, though he said that the promotion doesn't have the same impact in Queens that it does in Manhattan.
Not everyone had as much fun with it. On Ascan Avenue at Q Thai Bistro, owner Vesna Denic said that the promotion didn't even make a blip on their radar.
"Usually restaurant week doesn't bring so many people for us," Denic said. "We just do it for the sake of the community, but it doesn't seem to bring new people, or that many."
Many of the participating establishments in Forest Hills were Italian restaurants. It was the third year in a row for La Vigna, at 100-11 Metropolitan Avenue, to join in, but they didn't see the bump in diners that they usually do. The two-week span didn't produce much of an increase in business, which owners speculated might have been partly due to the poor economy.
The Irish Cottage, on 108-72 Avenue, was part of the event for their second time. Dozens of diners called ahead of time to ask about the menu and make reservations, and they even had people standing and waiting to get inside on certain nights.
They've been open for fifty years in the neighborhood, thanks to what the owner Kitty McNulty calls, "good food, good drinks, and very nice people." She said Restaurant Week is just an extra way to diversify the menu and keep the regulars excited about dining there.
Although the event wasn't a smashing success for every establishment, overall the week generated a tremendous amount of excitement for Forest Hills diners and servers alike. While many restaurants specialized in Italian cuisine, diners could also choose Irish, Thai, Japanese and American-style eateries. It was a family- and budget-friendly way to take on a heaping portion of Queens cuisine.