'Neighborhood Night' begins tonight offering specials to those who live or work in Towson

People who live and work in Towson can get special discounts at some downtown restaurants on Wednesdays starting July 11, according to the Towson Chamber of Commerce.

The weekly events, dubbed “Neighborhood Night,” are being coordinated as a way to draw customers to downtown Towson during the typically slow summer months, said chamber director Nancy Hafford.

“Summertime can be slow for the restaurants,” Hafford said. “So we talked … and said we need to get together and work together on a marketing plan for our community.”

“We just think that Towson, more than any other area, is really community-based,” said Phil Gelso, owner of Nacho Mama’s in Towson, which is participating in the Neighborhood Night event. “Neighborhoods are closer than they are typically and do more stuff together inherently. We wanted to be a part of that.”

The idea, Hafford said, arose at a monthly meeting in the chamber offices with representatives from restaurants around Towson attending.

Each participating restaurant sets its own specials, she said. Those discounts will all be available on Wednesday nights to anyone who lives or works in Towson – Hafford said people can show ID or just tell restaurants that they are community members.

Participating restaurants include The Greene Turtle, The Point in Towson, Nacho Mama's, Charles Village Pub and Souris’ Saloon, according to a Facebook event.

Kathy Harden, owner of Souris’ Saloon, said her restaurant is participating as a way to band together with other restaurants and show appreciation for the support of Towson residents.

“I’m a neighborhood bar and grill,” Harden said. “We appreciate our local surrounding neighborhoods, they support us throughout the year.”

On Neighborhood Nights, Souris’ will offer 75-cent wings, $1 hot dogs for children younger than 9, and $5 crushes, icy cocktails with juice and vodka.

The other restaurants either did not immediately have information on specials available or could not be reached.

Souris’ Saloon has outdoor seating and a strong customer base from Towson neighborhoods, and does not suffer fewer patrons in the summer as much as other restaurants when Towson University students leave, , Harden said.

Gelso said Nacho Mama’s, which is strict about preventing underage drinking, similarly caters to an older crowd and is not hit as hard by the summer slump.

Still, Harden said, with such a large population leaving over the summer “everybody does feel it.” And with the economy on an upswing, she thinks that more locals are going out of town on weekends and holidays instead of dining in Towson.

The group of restaurants picked Wednesday as the day to hold the specials, Harden said, to catch diners before they leave for long weekends away, and hopefully boosting sales for all restaurants in downtown Towson.

“We’re here for each other,” Harden said of the restaurant community. “You have to be. We’re a neighborhood.”

In addition to Neighborhood Night, chamber Marketing Director Emma Forrester created a new Facebook group, Towson Restaurant Deals and Happy Hours, for restaurants to post happy hours and specials throughout the week.

The group, she said, is intended as a central location for the Towson community to find deals – and a way for restaurants to advertise. It was launched about a week ago and has close to 100 members.

“We all kind of brainstormed to put this group together, to see if it would help [restaurants] gain some business over the summer,” Forrester said. “It’s slow, everybody’s on vacation, so we’re trying to keep people moving in and out.”

Hafford said the chamber is hoping that both Neighborhood Night and the Facebook group will catch on as the summer continues – not just with restaurants in Towson, but with diners.

“Everybody’s looking for a deal,” Hafford said.

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