Prepare your palates and give your wallets a rest because Westminster's annual Restaurant Week has returned to the downtown area for another year of meals and deals.
The year's Restaurant Week, which is deceptively 10 days long and lasts through Sunday, April 9, features 21 restaurants participating in the celebration. Food options range from baked goods and diners to dinner spots and bars, with everything from East Coast seafood to Thai food available for food lovers in the area.
Those looking for a low-cost evening out should keep their eyes peeled for special flags which designate restaurants as participants in the Restaurant Week.
According to Missie Wilcox, marketing consultant for Westminster, this is the largest Restaurant Week in the history of the event, with a record 21 venues participating.
One of the new participants is one of Westminster's newest restaurants, RockSalt Grille Restaurant and Raw Bar on Main Street. RockSalt, which opened Nov. 7, is run by Lee Nardyz, former owner of Time Out Sports Grille in the TownMall of Westminster.
Nardyz said he and his partner Susan came up with the idea for RockSalt about three years ago, but they had to wait for the perfect location to open up. When Harry Sirinakis, owner of Harry's Main Street Grille, decided to retire, they said they knew the time was right.
During Restaurant Week, they will offer three-course meals for lunch for $15.17 and four-course dinners for $30.17. Nardyz said these community events can be great for business, but they're also a fantastic way to build a city's character.
"In 20 years, I want to look back and say we were right in the middle of it," Nardyz said. "Who knows? By then Main Street could be lined not just with restaurants, but coffee shops and neat retail spots as well."
Wilcox said Restaurant Week is not only a celebration of the city itself, but a great way to recognize the local business owners of the city.
To help people become familiar with the restaurants, the Downtown Westminster Facebook page is hosting profiles of each of the participants throughout the event. Trivia includes such facts as the meaning behind O'Lordans Irish Pub, which was the maiden name of the owner's Irish-born grandmother.
"These aren't chains, these are our neighbors," Wilcox said. "We want to emphasize the 'eat local' part of Restaurant Week."
Deals available during the week include a three-course meal at Artisan Wine Company for $25.17, lunch specials at Maggie's Restaurant and Pub for $15.17 per person and a cupcake-latte combo at Starry Night Bakery for $5.17.
Ruth Thompson, owner of Rare Opportunity Bakehouse, said she saw the Restaurant Week deals as an opportunity to try out some new recipes they don't normally offer.
"We've been trying out these savory things for this week as well as a couple items we don't normally do," Thompson said. "We're hoping some new people decide to come try us out."
Wilcox said April was the perfect time for Restaurant Week, after the hubbub of the holidays and before summer begins to take people out of the area.
"It's a way to transition from winter to spring," Wilcox said. "The weather's getting nicer, so you can grab a meal and then stroll through the town and do a little shopping before you decide to grab another meal."
In addition to Restaurant Week, Westminster will also host its Wine Stroll on Sunday, April 2.
The stroll will feature wines from nine local wineries as well as live music and wine-related shopping opportunities. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.westminstermd.gov/winestroll.
If you go
What: Restaurant Week
When: Continues through Sunday, April 9
Where: Downtown Westminster
Cost: Deals change depending on restaurant
For more information: Visit www.westminstermd.gov/382/restaurant-week.
•Artisan Wine Company
•Conah's Bar & Grille
•CUP Tea Bar & Cafe
•JeannieBird Baking Company
•Johanssons Dining House
•Lone Star Barbeque
•Maggie's Restaurant and Pub
•O'Lordans Irish Pub
•Rare Opportunity Bakehouse
•RockSalt Grille Restaurant and Raw Bar
•Starry Night Bakery
•Tim Thai Restaurant
•Ying Thai Cuisine