Dining out 30 meals in eight days – sounds impossible, right?
Well, not for Debbie Rutter, of Manchester Township.
When an unofficial competition broke out on Facebook to see who could eat at the most restaurants during Restaurant Week York – an annual celebration of York's best cuisine – Rutter took it to the next level by claiming she would eat at all 30 participating locations.
The sixth annual event returns downtown Feb. 20-27 with pre-fixe menus, including breakfast or brunch specials for $5 and $10, lunch specials for $5, $10 and $15, and three-course dinner specials for $20, $30 or $40.
But locals have already begun sharing their Restaurant Week game plans on Facebook, including charts and schedules of which restaurants they plan to attend throughout the week. They’ve also asked others to join them.
That’s the whole idea – to meet new people and introduce them to restaurants they normally wouldn’t visit, Rutter said.
Her goal is to get 100 people to have a meal somewhere they don't normally go, and she's asking people to use #rwyorkdebbie so she can keep track.
Rutter said she realizes her efforts won't come without a price. Thirty $5 to $40 meals does add up. But she said she thinks the cause is worth the money.
"I am passionate about York City," she said. It's important to me to spend money in this way because it's important to share the experience of being downtown with other people."
Here are some creative ways Rutter plans to eat at all 30 restaurants during Restaurant Week.
Get organized and plan ahead.
In case you haven’t done the math, fitting 30 meals into eight days means eating out more than three meals a day. That takes some planning. The first step is to get organized, Rutter said. She printed out all of the menus from the Restaurant Week York website and put them in a binder. Then, she printed out a guide (found on rwyork.com) of which restaurants are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and began writing out a schedule, starting with the restaurants offering one-night-only, Restaurant Week-exclusive dinners. Then, she penciled in meals that can have more flexibility in her schedule, crossing each restaurant off as she goes.
All of Rutter’s careful planning would go to waste if she didn’t make reservations, she said. She started reserving tables the first night the now sold-out Forno Bova Pizza Pop-Up dinner at York City Pretzel Company went on sale, and has been scrambling to make her final reservations this week. It’s especially important to make reservations for the Restaurant Week-exclusive dinners, but several other participating restaurants will take reservations as well. For a complete list of restaurants that accept reservations, visit rwyork.com.
“I wouldn’t want (people) to not be able to get in if they made a big effort to get downtown,” Rutter said.
Order takeout and share.
The only way to complete this challenge (without overeating) is to order meals from multiple restaurants and share, Rutter said.
“I can’t eat that much food (by myself),” she said. “It’s impossible.”
Instead, Rutter said she plans to order takeout for herself one night at one restaurant, for her husband at another restaurant, and while she’s at it, a meal for her neighbors from another restaurant.
Get coffee, drinks or snacks.
Don’t think you have to order a full meal from every restaurant. Some places, like Glazin,’The Green Bean Roasting Co. and I-ron-ic, will offer drink specials that you can fit into your schedule whenever you need an extra jolt of energy, Rutter said.
Knock out multiple restaurants during Central Market hours.
Several participating restaurants – including Bair’s Fried Chicken, The Busy Bee, The Copper Crust Company, J.R.’s Fries, Mezzogiorno and Sharmini’s Kitchen – are housed conveniently inside Central Market. Rutter suggests stopping by during Central Market hours one day and picking up food from multiple stops at once. You can always reheat what you don’t eat later!