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Restaurant Week Time For Chefs, Diners To Try Something New

DENVER (CBS4)- A little more than two weeks before the start of Denver Restaurant Week, the team behind a group of popular restaurants participating in the event are ready for its return. They say it is a huge opportunity to attract new customers as well as convince past patrons to come back again.

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"We've been doing Restaurant Week at Vesta, since it started," said Josh Wolkon, president of Secret Sauce Food & Beverage. "It is one of the best marketing opportunities, if not the best marketing opportunity that I've ever been able to participate in."

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Josh Wolkon (credit: CBS)

His group owns three concepts and four restaurants around the metro area. Vesta opened in 1997 and has participated in each year of Denver Restaurant Week. His other restaurants, Steuben's and Ace Eat Serve, are also offering three-course meal menus later this month. Steuben's opened in Denver's Uptown neighborhood in 2006 and for the past three years, there has been a second location in Arvada.

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"Get 'em in the first time and then it's up to you, it's up to us to get them back," Wolkon said. "You really want the guest to experience the restaurant for what it is."

Restaurant Week helps to fill seats during a slow time of the year, coming off the holidays and Valentine's Day, it is a helpful boost for business. Staff prepare for the busy run of 10 days by having gatherings as a group.

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"It's a reminder to the staff, slow down, let's treat it like a normal, regular, busy Friday, Saturday night," Wolkon said.

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This year Steuben's will feature one of its signature dishes on the Restaurant Week menu. Their lobster roll could cost as much as $28 on its own but will be able as part of a three-course meal for $25. It is the least expensive of the three price points for Restaurant Week, other places will offer menus at $35, like Vesta, or $45.

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CBS4's Shawn Chitnis interviews Nicholas Kayser (credit: CBS)

"It's exciting, there's growth, every year we learn from the year before," said Nicholas Kayser, executive chef at Vesta.

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Kayser showed off some of the dishes available during Restaurant Week while in the kitchen. He creates the menus featured during the event saying the restaurant tries to stay with the themes Vesta has currently adopted that time of year. For 2019, there is a focus on Spanish and Portuguese cuisine and Colorado ingredients.

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"I always try to encourage restaurants to try and go above and beyond. Don't take the easy way out," Wolkon said.

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Beyond dinner, there are also lunch options during Restaurant Week. Steuben's will provide some of the same dishes people crave for dinner during the day. Wolkon says it is another way to get a great deal during Restaurant Week.

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Wolkon has lead a restaurant boot camp for others in Denver, he also talked to them about preparing for this event. He says worrying about money during that week is short sighted, the focus needs to be on finding new customers that will keep coming back. It is even more important to stand out in the city's growing restaurant scene.

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"I think it's exciting, the more great restaurants that come to Denver, and everybody has to continue to elevate their game."

Denver Restaurant Week starts Feb. 22 and runs through March 3.

LINK: Denver Restaurant Week

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