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Ogden’s popular ‘Restaurant Week’ we transform into ‘Restaurant Month’ for 2020

By Mitch Shaw Standard-Examiner - | Oct 20, 2020

OGDEN — Postponed in spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ogden’s Restaurant Week is back for the fall.

And instead of a seven-day affair, the popular culinary celebration will last an entire month.

Colt Jarvis, director of marketing and communications for Visit Ogden, said “Ogden Restaurant Week” could more aptly be called “Ogden Restaurant Month” this year, because the event will take place throughout the entire month of November, scheduled to run from Nov. 1-30.

Highlighting the city’s independent food and beverage industry, Restaurant Week was first held in Ogden in 2013. The event originated in New York City in 1992 and has since spread to thousands of city’s across the United States, according to Visit Ogden’s website.

In addition to a longer run, Jarvis said this year’s event will include other changes to address the ongoing pandemic. Jarvis said a “Shop in Utah” grant will allow participating restaurants to offer customers discounts throughout the 30-day Restaurant Week event.

Funded through more than $25 million in federal CARES Act money, Governor’s Office of Economic Development Media Relations Manager Tony Young said the state program strives to help keep Utah businesses afloat by providing grants for companies to give discounts and coupons to their patrons. As part of the program, eligible businesses receive a certain amount of money and at least 50% of that total must be used to offer coupons, discounts or other financial incentives to customers.

Jarvis said this year’s celebration won’t feature special menu items like during normal years, but the discount program is a suitable replacement to get people to patronize Ogden restaurants.

“We hope we can make the switch back to normal Restaurant Week sooner rather than later,” Jarvis said. “But people are really excited we’re doing this. Our social media posts (announcing this year’s plan) had tons of engagement, so I think people are looking for fun things to do.”

Jarvis said restaurants will continue to follow already-in-place state and county health department guidelines for COVID-19 safety during the event.

So far, 20 independent Ogden eateries are participating in this year’s program. The restaurants feature a wide variety of foods, from pizza and Italian, to burgers, Thai, Mexican and Japanese. For a full list of participating restaurants go visitogden.com/restaurantweek.

The restaurant industry has been hit harder than most during the pandemic.

According to the National Restaurant Association, Utah lost 13% of its total eating and drinking labor force between February and July — dropping from 110,000 total employees to just under 96,000. Nationwide, the association says the industry has suffered more job losses than any other sector during the pandemic, as government-mandated lockdowns led to millions of employees being laid off or furloughed in March and April.

Employment has made a comeback, with nearly 3 million employees returning to payrolls in May and June, but as of August, staffing levels were still more than 3 million jobs below the February peak, according to the restaurant association and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

Nationwide, September’s sales continued to trend upward, increasing by about $1.1 billion from August, according to the NRA. But that number was still only about half of the gains registered in July and August, in both dollar volume and percentage terms. Overall, restaurants’ food and beverage sales in September still remained nearly $10 billion, or 15%, below their pre-coronavirus levels in January and February.

“The hospitality industry in general has just been eviscerated,” said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. “We’ve been kind of lucky in Ogden, because most of our restaurants are still at least keeping their heads above water. We really have a wealth of independent restaurants in our city, with lots of different approaches. So we really hope people will get out and try something new.”


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