Winter Restaurant Week, put on by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), is held annually to help bring in customers during the slow season. While January is already usually a hard month for the food industry, restaurant owners are especially thankful to take part this year. Now through February 7, locals can support D.C. businesses striving to remain afloat mid-pandemic.
“We really appreciate the Restaurant Association’s work in promoting Restaurant Week every year, but especially this year,” says Chef Scott Drewno, who co-owns CHIKO and Anju. “It’s been a tough year, so it’s great to have the volume of business that we have.”
Encouraging diners to eat at restaurants – and this year, grab takeout or delivery – around the city is great for restaurants and guests. Locals get an opportunity to visit multiple restaurants in the city at a good price point while easing the strain on restaurants during this time. Drewno adds that Restaurant Week not only brings in much-needed business, but also allows chefs to get creative in the kitchen.
“We’re always tinkering and working on new items,” he says. “The great thing about Restaurant Week is that it gives us the opportunity to have fun with new stuff. At CHIKO, guests can choose one of any four of our snacks, one of any four of our appetizers and one of any four of our [entrees]. It’s almost like a choose your own adventure, so it’s a really fun experience.”
Even with indoor dining allowed at reduced capacity, many restaurants are struggling during the winter months. Kaz Okochi, owner of KAZ Sushi Bistro, says that indoor dining has not been possible at his restaurant because the small space would only allow for a few tables to be seated. For the first time in its 22 years, KAZ Sushi Bistro has gone carryout and delivery-only. While Okochi admits this transition has not been easy, he and his staff have tried to make the best of it and changed up their menu to better suit their to-go model.
“The biggest difference is, due to the pandemic, our menu is smaller,” he explains. “We wanted to do something a little bit different this year for the Restaurant Week menu, so we added a hot pot dish perfect for the wintertime. You get a cup of soup [and] the protein. Customers only need to put it in a pot to heat it up for a couple of minutes, and it’s ready.”
Okochi hopes that the support from guests during Restaurant Week is a great step forward for the rest of the year. Restaurants will continue to struggle until it is deemed safe enough to have more customers eat inside. But if Washingtonians continue to order from local restaurants, we can enjoy establishments like KAZ for years to come.
“Anything helps,” Okochi concludes.
You can order from restaurants like Anju, CHIKO and KAZ Sushi Bistro and more before Winter Restaurant Week comes to a close on February 7. You’ll get a great meal and help a local business to boot, so get on your stretchy pants and eat until you’ve tasted all that D.C. has to offer.
Find the list of all participating restaurants in the DMV at www.ramw.org/restaurantweek. Visit www.chikodc.com for a full Restaurant Week menu or to place your order. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @chikofrc. Visit www.anjurestaurant.com and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @anjufrc. Visit www.kazsushi.com and follow them on Instagram and Twitter @kazsushibistro, or on Facebook @kazsushi.
Anju: 1805 18th St. NW, DC; open Monday – Sunday, 5-9:30 p.m.
CHIKO Capitol Hill: 423 8th St. SE, DC; open Monday – Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
CHIKO Dupont: 2029 P St. NW, DC; 202-331-3040; open Monday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
CHIKO Bethesda: 7280 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD; hours not listed
KAZ Sushi Bistro: 1915 I St. NW, DC; 202-530-5500; open Monday – Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m., and Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m.
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