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Good Food on a Budget: Duluth's 5th Annual Restaurant Week Kicks Off

Updated: 03/31/2014 9:54 PM
Created: 03/31/2014 7:41 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

Now is the time to get a great meal on a budget.

For the next two weeks, many Duluth restaurants are drawing people in with great deals and new food. At 12 days long, the "Eat Downtown - Duluth Restaurant Week" is a chance for restaurants to try some new things.

On the first day, Valentini's Vincino Lago on London Road told Eyewitness News that it's already proving to be popular.

The event is in it's fifth year. Valentini's Owner Carol Valentini says they've been involved in most. "This is our fourth year, I believe...seems like every time we turn around it's restaurant week again and I'm happy about that."

Each year, Valentini said "we are charged with coming up with a menu."

For the next two weeks, 18 other restaurants are doing the same. They are:

  • Bellisio's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Black Water Lounge
  • Canal Park Brewing Co.
  • Dubh Linn Pub
  • Fitger's Brewhouse
  • Grandma's Saloon Grizzly's in Canal Park
  • JJ Astor at the Radisson
  • Lake Avenue Cafe
  • Midi Restaurant
  • Pickwick Restaurant & Pub
  • Pizza Luce
  • Restaurant 301
  • 7 West TapHouse
  • Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake
  • Tycoons Alehouse and Eatery
  • VaBene Berarducci's Caffe
  • Valentini's Vicino Lago
  • Zeitgeist Arts Cafe

Each restaurant is offering $10 lunch options and $20 dinner options. At Valentini's, lunch options include a Sicilian pizza, or a honey-smoked salmon salad. Each comes with a choice of soup or salad and a small dessert.

In the kitchen, Cook Jeremiah Modeen is hoping for a jam-packed dining room. "It's a lot more fun for me cooking when, you know, you're under pressure a little bit to get the dishes out," he said.

Duluth's Greater Downtown Council says Restaurant Week is designed to give local restaurants an economic boost. Valentini's welcomes the opportunity, as it comes at the tail end of a rough winter. Weeks of subzero temperatures and heavy snow had them close their doors more than once to keep staff and customers safe.

"We had to do that three times this year. Three times we had to close the door at night," Valentini said. "When it's snowing really hard, it's dangerous for customers to come out and it's dangerous for staff driving home. This is food, this is entertainment, this is socializing. You have to make that decision whether it's worth putting someone's life in danger just to eat."

Valentini told us the restaurant has had to come up with other ways to generate revenue, including offering cooking classes and different specials.

But as those temperatures start to climb, Valentini said business picks up and so does the mood. "The lake is prettier. Everything is nicer in Duluth when it is sunny out," she said.

Restaurant Week continues through April 11.

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