The holidays are over, and most Clevelanders typically hole-up for the rest of winter while anticipating spring weather.
But for the past five years, restauranteur Zack Bruell
has held his own Restaurant Week – a three course meal for $33 -- at his area restaurants to drum up business in the slow periods and introduce diners to his menus.
“Historically, business-wise, this time of year people aren’t going out as much,” Bruell explains. “I’m just experimenting, knowing full-well that in January and February we don’t have anything to lose.”
The practice has proven so popular, this year Bruell is hosting a full month of prix fixe menus at each of his six upscale restaurants -- Parallax
, Table 45
, Cowell & Hubbard
and Alley Cat Oyster Bar
– for $33 per person, plus tax and gratuity. The special runs from Monday, Jan. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 7.
The budget price does not mean lack of choices or skimpy portions, Bruell promises. “Each restaurant will have a distinct menu of options with three choices in appetizers, entrees and desserts,” he says. “It went so well in the past, I wanted to see if we can continue this.”
For instance, at L’Abatros in University Circle, diners can choose from soup du jour, winter salad or ricotta gnudi for an appetizer; market fish, chicken roulade or vegan Himalayan red rice for an entrée, each with accompanying vegetable; and warm brownies with dried cherries and ice cream, crème brulee or apple cake for desert.
“We’re trying to do stuff that isn’t necessarily on our menu and we’re giving people a choice,” says Bruell. “We try to be user-friendly. As far as I’m concerned, this is about making friends.”
While the prices may lure people to Bruell’s restaurants, he argues the specials also show that fine dining can be affordable. “It’s not just a promotion to drive people through the door, it’s a promotion to introduce people to our restaurants,” he says, adding that his establishments also host year-round half-price food and wine specials.
“This is similar to that, but it’s a full meal and we’re not skimpy on our portion sizes or any of the ingredients. It’s the same experience, it’s an opportunity to expose people who may not otherwise come into the restaurant.”
The prix fixe menus should be listed on each of the restaurants’ websites soon.
Bruell’s restaurants also participate in other Restaurant Weeks throughout the year, such as the ones sponsored by Downtown Cleveland Alliance
and Cleveland Independents
, which include a variety of area restaurants.