Restaurant Week turns 10
Dine out at some of the city’s best restaurants in support of the local food bank.
The Melting Pot’s Becky Chapman and the Chalkboard’s Joshua Ozaras prepare for the 10th anniversary of Restaurant Week with Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, the event’s beneficiary.
Keeping up with Tulsa’s restaurant scene can be a full-time job. And for the week of Sept. 10-19, foodies will be working overtime to dine in Tulsa’s best kitchens during Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week is a weeklong opportunity to sample menus from across town for a fixed price. People begin making reservations well in advance for these two- and three-course menus that provide a taste of some of Tulsa’s best chefs’ talents.
If that’s not reason enough to participate, each restaurant donates 10 percent of its Restaurant Week menu sales to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
Since 2006, Restaurant Week has raised more than $315,000, which includes matched donations from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, for the food bank.
Inspired by popular Restaurant Weeks in New York City, Chicago and Dallas, TulsaPeople Publisher Jim Langdon and Tulsa restaurateur Tim Baker collaborated to plan Tulsa’s first event.
The original seven-day event a decade ago has since expanded to 10 days, giving diners an opportunity to try more restaurants — and raise even more money for the food bank.
“We are very pleased and proud of the success of Restaurant Week in Tulsa,” Langdon says. “The concept and event encourages the enjoyment of dining out, supports local restaurant businesses and raises awareness and money for the food bank to support their mission of alleviating food insecurity within families living in our region. So, Restaurant Week is truly a win, win, win.”
Several restaurants, including Biga, the French Hen, Keo, McGill’s, Palace Café and Sonoma have participated in Restaurant Week for many years. Two restaurants, the Chalkboard and the Melting Pot, have been with Restaurant Week from inception.
For Joshua Ozaras, owner of the Chalkboard, it was a natural fit.
“Feeding people is our business,” Ozaras says. “So being able to give back to the food bank, when you understand the need for it, is important. It’s for a good cause, and it’s good for business.”
Tracey Sudberry, general manager and catering director for the Chalkboard, says he sees a mix of longtime customers and new customers visiting during Restaurant Week.
“It definitely gets people out of their particular comfort zone,” Sudberry says. “We have people who try to hit all the restaurants throughout the week.”
And the Chalkboard provides several chances to sample different items on the Restaurant Week menu since the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sudberry says those who have never dined at the Chalkboard will be able to get a taste of what the restaurant is about; they typically keep one or two of the restaurant’s standards on the Restaurant Week menu. At the same time, regulars can try something new with the chef’s “off the menu” features that week.
Tulsa’s restaurant culture and food scene fit well with Restaurant Week, as diners are on the lookout for food trends and new dishes to try, Sudberry says. This gives them the opportunity to do so for a good price and a good cause.
Ozaras says Tulsa’s reputation as a philanthropic community makes it a perfect match for Restaurant Week, as both restaurant owners and customers see the benefit in participation.
“Tulsa has always been a foodie town and a giving community,” he says. “Restaurant Week helps to open people’s minds to the real need out there.”
Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, says the week has provided millions of meals to those who need the help and has raised awareness of hunger issues in the community.
“Our restaurants are generous partners, and Tulsans have fully embraced the concept,” she says. “It is a week in which our community focuses on hunger, and shares meals out so those who are hungry may have food to eat at home, in a shelter or a soup kitchen. We are grateful to everyone who participates in this process.”
Year 10 Thoughts
Hal Walker, McGill’s
Joshua Ozaras, the Chalkboard
Kathy Bondy, the French Hen
Becky Chapman, the Melting Pot
Tuck Curren, Biga
Tim Baker, formerly of the Brasserie and Sonoma
Facts about food insecurity
The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma distributed more than 21.1 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2016. That’s the equivalent of 339,000 meals every week.
One out of every four children in Oklahoma struggles with hunger.
62 percent of all Oklahoma public school children participate in free and reduced school meals.
One out of six Oklahomans age 60 and older struggles with hunger.
The food bank provides food through a network of partner programs in 24 counties in eastern Oklahoma. These include emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and veteran and senior citizen centers.
Restaurants participating in the 10th annual Tulsa Restaurant Week:
- Bin 35 Bistro
- Bistro at Seville
- Bluestone Steakhouse
- Caz’s Chowhouse
- The Chalkboard
- Daily Grill
- Dilly Diner
- El Guapo’s Downtown
- El Guapo’s Harvard
- Fassler Hall
- Florence Park Café
- Foundations at Platt College
- The French Hen
- In the Raw Brookside
- In the Raw On the Hill
- James E. McNellie’s Downtown
- James E. McNellie’s South City
- Keo South
- McGill’s on 21st
- McGill’s on Yale
- The Melting Pot
- Michael V’s
- Queenie’s Plus
- Naples Flatbread
- Palace Café
- Rusty Crane
- SMOKE. on Cherry Street
- Texas de Brazil
- The Tavern
- The Vault
- The Wine Loft Bistro
- Yokozuna Southside
- Yokozuna Downtown