Baltimore County kicked off its largest restaurant week to date Thursday morning, with 14 of the 53 participating restaurants offering up samples at the new Liquid Lib's wine bar in Timonium.
"Not only is this a great time to enjoy a good, new meal at a restaurant place you've never been to, but also to recognize that rest are a great industry for Baltimore County," Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at the event, which was attended by county staff and restaurateurs.
Baltimore County Restaurant Week, a 17-day event that begins on Friday, Jan. 10 and stretches until Sunday, Jan. 26, offers diners lunch and dinner specials ranging from $10.14 to $35.14 from restaurants across the county.
The kickoff event, which was held in the Liquid Lib's wine bar adjacent to Liberatore's Ristorante, featured samples from Towson's Oyster Bay Grille, McFaul's Ironhorse Tavern and Café Troia, among others. Other county favorites, such as Pappas and Herb & Soul, both in Parkville, and An Poitin Stil in Timonium also participated in Thursday's kickoff.
Kamenetz and Keith Scott, president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, each touted the promotion's growth and impact since the program was started in 2010 by Brian Boston, executive chef of Milton Inn in Sparks.
The county executive said restaurants produce $1.4 billion in sales each year in Baltimore County, with 25,000 people employed at 1,550 different establishments.
"To me, that really shows the economic engine of Baltimore County," Scott said.
Miles Perman, managing partner of Kooper's North in Lutherville, said his restaurant was participating in its third restaurant week because they have seen a clear impact on business.
"It definitely brings new customers in," Perman said. "It's a great way for us to showcase some of our great food."
Perman believes that the growing scale of the event helps both new and established restaurants that take part.
"The more restaurants that take part, it creates more of a buzz," Perman said. "With more of a buzz, you're going to get more people going out to restaurants who might not typically go out to dinner."
Part of the growth of restaurant week can be credited to the opening of new restaurants, which view the promotion as a way to bring in new customers.
"It's an exciting opportunity to get people in," Scotti Offutt, events manager of Ryleigh's Oyster in Hunt Valley, said.
Though January is traditionally a slower time for restaurants, Offutt said the nine-week-old restaurant's buzz, combined with restaurant week, allows the Hunt Valley location of a Federal Hill favorite to become part of the county's culture.
"We like the camaraderie of all the restaurants doing it and being the new kid in town, we wanted to join in," she said.
Scott said his member businesses have seen an increase in revenue because of their participation in years past.
"When they look at their revenue and see the number of new people walking through the door, it's exploding for them in a traditionally slow period," he said. "For them, it's a great opportunity to increase the bottom line."
For a full list of participating restaurants and their menus for Restaurant Week, visit http://www.baltimorecountyrestaurantweek.com/.