Restaurant Week called a 'win-win' for everyone

It’s time, once again, for Las Vegas Restaurant Week, the seventh edition of a fundraiser that somehow manages to reap benefits for all those involved — and many who are not.

“It’s win-win,” said chef Dave Middleton of Marche Bacchus.

“It’s just a win-win situation for everybody,” said Grape Street chef/owner John McKibben. “It’s all about Three Square and feeding the hungry.”

Restaurant Week, which runs from Friday through Aug. 30, is indeed all about Three Square, the local food bank that relies on the event (and a more recent spring version) as one of its major fundraisers.

Here’s how it works: Restaurants — nearly 120 this year — sign up and agree to offer a set menu at breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, for a set price ranging from $20.13 to $50.13. The restaurants agree to donate to Three Square a fixed amount for every Restaurant Week meal sold.

So Three Square, and the hungry people it serves in Southern Nevada, benefit from the cash that comes in. The restaurants benefit by drawing a wider clientele than they normally might. And restaurant customers benefit by trying new restaurants and usually saving money in the process.

Here’s an example: Fogo de Chao, a churrascaria, or Brazilian steakhouse, at 360 E. Flamingo Road, has been participating in Restaurant Week since it opened in late 2011. The restaurant offers its regular menu, which includes an extensive salad bar, continuous service of 16 grilled meats, and side dishes such as mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, crispy polenta and warm cheese bread. Plus they throw in dessert, Fogo’s signature papaya cream. At lunch it’s $30.13, at dinner $40.13. Regular prices for lunch and dinner without the dessert are $29.50 and $49.50, respectively.

“The great value for the customer is we don’t change anything in our menu,” said general manager Marcio Bonfada. “You’re saving about $10 at lunchtime and $20 at dinner. And then we donate $4 to Three Square.”

Pretty sweet deal for the consumer, but why would a restaurant take a loss and make a donation on top of it?

“The main reason we do it is just to give back to the community,” Bonfada said, “and thank them for all of the support they’ve given us through the years.”

McKibben, of Grape Street at 7501 W. Lake Mead Blvd., said this is the third year he’s participated and the first time he’s added lunch.

“We want to make people more aware of the cause and bring in more donations for Three Square,” he said.

He’s offering a $30.13 lunch menu of beet salad, beef-tenderloin and Dungeness-crabcake sliders, and a dessert of sea salt caramel gelato. For dinner, at $40.13: chilled tomato soup with grilled cheese, pulled pork and foie gras; grilled macadamia-and-coconut-crusted lamb chops; and a profiterole for dessert. Five dollars for each meal go to Three Square.

McKibben said his lunch and dinner clienteles are not the same.

“It’s more of a business crowd” at lunch, he said. “Power-lunchers, doctors, attorneys, businessmen. You can come here and have a nice relaxing lunch and have your business meeting.

“I think we’ll get foodies. I think we’ll get a broad scope of people.”

Middleton said the owners of Marche Bacchus, 2620 Regatta Drive, have participated in Restaurant Week since it started in 2007 and have always offered lunch and dinner.

“Obviously, lunch is more affordable than dinner,” he said.

Their menus: $30.13 for lunch, for a tomato salad, roasted chicken breast or an Ora King Salmon salad, and bread pudding or creme brulee for dessert. Dinner, which is $50.13, has the same appetizers and desserts and an entree of Ora King Salmon or Maple Leaf duck breast. Five dollars for each meal goes to Three Square.

If your appetite is whetted, check out all of the menus for the participating restaurants at www.HelpOutDineOut LV.org.

Bonfada said a plus for the restaurants is the new customers they attract, many of whom become regulars.

“Once they come in, they see the value, they see the experience, and they always come back,” he said. “We have a lot of customers who started during Restaurant Week.”

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.