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'Restaurant Week is near and dear to our hearts because it’s a time for us to show off'

'Restaurant Week is near and dear to our hearts because it’s a time for us to show off'

Several owners, managers say weeklong event helps during slower, colder time of year
'Restaurant Week is near and dear to our hearts because it’s a time for us to show off'
Maria Papa, owner of Perreca’s, seen in December 2015.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

SCHENECTADY — City restaurateurs appear to have enjoyed a strong turnout for this year’s Schenectady Restaurant Week.

Some restaurant managers said they saw greater interest and volume compared with last year’s weeklong culinary promotion, though a storm on Friday that dumped nearly a foot of snow on the area dampened participation on that day.

Overall, though, restaurant owners and managers were happy with the turnout and response they got.

“We take it very seriously,” said Maria Papa, owner of More Perreca’s. “We really like to shine.”

Papa said More Perreca's offered a six-course $25 prix fixe menu, which included braciole, baccala and their house-made mango chili gelato for dessert.

“Restaurant Week is near and dear to our hearts because it’s a time for us to show off,” Papa said.

Other restaurant managers agreed it is a time for them to up their games and show what they are about. Pat Popolizio, owner of Water’s Edge Lighthouse, said the week is helpful because dining activity is normally slower at this time of year because of colder weather. But for Restaurant Week, every table was filled each night they were open, he said. The Water's Edge put out a prix fixe menu that included a prime rib dinner, an 8 oz. lobster tail dinner and Tuscan scampi.

“If we’re going to make it exciting, make it exciting — make it a gimmick,” Popolizio said, adding that the restaurant still offers its regular menu during Restaurant Week. “We give our customers a nice combination.”

For Centre Street Pub, the event was a chance to showcase their pairings of food with a well-curated draft beer list, especially since the restaurant recently hired a new chef, Mike Zanotta.

Kristen Slurff, banquet manager for Centre Street, said the restaurant benefited from the promotion and got great feedback from customers.

“We gained new customers who didn’t know we were here, and they loved it," Slurff said.

Friday's weather may have kept some potential customers at home, though Kelly Cowell, manager of Katie O’Byrne’s, said the restaurant was still busy.

“We were extra busy on Saturday,” Cowell said.

Popolizio agreed that the snowstorm affected sales, and Papa said it's what kept them from beating last year’s numbers.

Debbie Lamalfa, owner of Manhattan Exchange, said Friday's weather resulted in some pent-up demand for dinners out on Saturday, based on how busy her restaurant was.

“I think the storm on Friday made [restaurants] double up on Saturday,” she said.

Restaurateurs praised the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and the Chamber of Schenectady County for organizing the event and for promoting it well.

“They have it running pretty good,” Lamalfa said. “They have it down to a science.”

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