PLAINFIELD, NJ - Plainfielders can get their taste buds ready as the first annual restaurant week is just three weeks away. The Plainfield Special Improvement District, under new leadership, will kick off the event on Thursday, August 8th and will run for ten days until August 18th.
TAPinto Plainfield sat down with Antoinette Brevard, Executive Director, at the new SID office located at 131 North Avenue to learn more about this exciting event and what diners can expect. Planning began in early Spring and is the first major event for the new organization.
TAP: How has the reception been from the businesses?
Brevard: The concept is new to many businesses which is a challenge and it sometimes takes several visits and conversations in order to build trust. Packets of information with background information explaining the overall concept, samples of prix fixe menus, an application form and marketing materials were provided to the businesses to get them engaged in the process.
TAP: How many restaurants will be participating?
Brevard: We currently have 28 eateries participating over 10 days. Our goal was 25 but our dream is 40 and we are not that far off. I am excited that it celebrates the diversity of Plainfield. We have a good cross section of ethnically diverse foods, from Columbian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Dominican, Caribbean and Soul Food. We would love to have a vegan restaurant as well and we have included bakeries and smaller specialty eateries, all at different price points. Some will be offering prix-fixe menus and some will be offering discounts.
The cutoff is August 1st for restaurants to officially sign up. But we want all to have the opportunity to sign on. Plainfield has a lot of opportunities and to make the change economically, we have to start with what we have and we have restaurants.
TAP: What other activities are planned for the 10 day event:
Brevard: There will be 3 different kick-off events including music: The initial kick-off on the 8th will include BKS1 Radio hosting a live broadcast at a central location. The midweek event will be on South Avenue by the Coffee Box and a closing event at Grants BBQ. 18 of the 28 restaurants participated in video shoots that will be rolled out on the website at www.myplainfield.org for the restaurants to share with their contacts to actively promote the event. It’s a great summertime event
TAP: Should visitors plan ahead and reserve before visiting the restaurants?
Brevard: Reservations are not necessary but visitors can call ahead. We are still exploring offering online reservation options that would help large groups planning to visit.
Success will be measured by how many people show up and support the restaurants. We hope that this is the beginning of continued interaction between all businesses not just the restaurants attracting folks to downtown. We are using all of our resources to reach out to local dignitaries and organizations and inviting them to host tables at the restaurants.
TAP: Are you marketing the event to surrounding towns?
Brevard: We are using social media, banners and billboards at either ends of the city to market to everyone. The City also developed a promotional TV ad and we have reached out to a local TV channel. The challenge is to get visitors and get them to sample the food.
TAP: What were some of the challenges with planning?
Brevard: Having a broad diverse committee has helped to bridge any language issues. The committee is comprised of SID members as well as the City’s Economic Development and Communications Department.
We are learning as we go. We meet the businesses where they are by providing them with information and the marketing materials. The website will include a comprehensive listing of participants with their offerings, regardless of size.
Once we have a complete list we will map out the entire area and provide parking options during the restaurant week, particularly in the downtown area. Information will be on the website. Convenience and inclusion are the primary goals.
TAP: Is there anything else about Restaurant Week that we should know?
Brevard: Plainfield is on the upswing and I am excited to be a part of it.
As the Mayor stated, we want to make Plainfield a destination for foodies – I hope we accomplish everything we set out to do and next year they will be knocking on our doors to participate. I hope the businesses profit and we can build upon this year’s success.
For more information, please visit the Plainfield Special Improvement District website at: www.myplainfield.org
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