Prime Dime: Discount dinners take chilly town by storm
Charlottesville's first "Dinner on a Dime" kicked off with a bang on Monday, October 4, with participating eateries reporting a spike in business as wallet-conscious diners chow down with abandon–- thanks to the $9.99 price for an entr©e and appetizer or dessert.
"People realize it's a good deal," says Andrew Laurence, general manager at Enoteca wine bar on the Downtown Mall. One of the 12 local restaurants participating in the Hook-sponsored event, Enoteca reported a 30 percent increase in its Monday night business, but it's not alone in seeing reservations swelling.
"I've had constant calls," says Mono Loco general manager Alisha McLaughlin. "It probably gets people out that haven't been to the restaurant before."
That "nouvelle Latin" eatery on Water Street did, however, report a wrinkle in the form of some people trying to stretch the deal even further by trying to split an order. "You gotta order for however many people are eating," urges McLaughlin.
Downtown eateries aren't the only ones benefiting from the week-long buzz, as Maharaja in the Seminole Square shopping center also saw a "good crowd" on Monday, according to Raymond Madeira, the owner's uncle.
The event is a sibling of sorts to Charlottesville Restaurant Week, the semi-annual smorgasbord that offers a $26 price tag for a three-course meal at the town's most upscale restaurants. Dinner on a Dime offers two courses at more casual establishments so diners can treat a family of four to dinner for less than $40 (excluding libations, tax, and tip.)
While many venues are accepting reservations, some–- including Brookville on the Downtown Mall–- says they've switched to a walk-in only policy in response to the high demand. (And, due to the chillier temperatures, Mono Loco switched off its gazpacho in favor of warm tomato bisque.)
The event runs nightly through Sunday, October 10.