FLINT, MI – Planning for the second-annual Flint Restaurant Week is underway, and organizers are working to expand the food showcase beyond the downtown eateries.

Organizers Ken Laatz and Spencer Ruegsegger want to build on the success of last year’s weeklong event by encouraging more restaurants within the City of Flint to partake in Flint Restaurant Week 2017, May 16-20.

“Overall, Flint Restaurant Week was a huge success and had very positive effects on the community,” said Ruegsegger, General Manager at Blackstones’ Pub & Grill.
Laatz, General Manager of Soggy Bottom Bar, agreed. “We still have guests coming in and talking about what a great and positive experience Flint Restaurant Week was.”

The plan was for last year’s event to be the first of many, and that it would grow to include as many restaurants in the City of Flint that would like to participate. And that’s what the organizers are cooking up for 2017.

Invitations and information packets were sent to Flint restaurants last week, and an informational meeting will be held Wednesday, April 12, at the Mott Foundation Building. The meeting will run 9:30-11 a.m.

So far, 16 restaurants and bars are onboard for 2017.

Last year’s event was done in collaboration with the Greater Flint Arts Council (GFAC) with grant support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to cover marketing costs. GFAC is, again, a partner in this year’s food celebration but participating restaurants are paying a $200 fee to help cover promotional expenses.

The fee will cover the costs of the four-week marketing campaign leading up to the event, including billboards, television, radio, social media and a website. In addition, participating restaurants will receive:

  • Uniform Flint Restaurant Week (FRW) menus, with the establishment’s unique offering or special event featured.
  • Full-color posters and handbills.
  • Flint Restaurant Week “Passports,” with restaurant details, offerings and color photo. Passports are made available at each participating restaurant during the event, which patrons can use to track the number of establishments visited. If a patron visits enough restaurants during the week, they will qualify for a special prize that can be picked up Saturday, the final day of the event.

The inaugural Flint Restaurant Week was held last May with 19 participating locations. Each restaurant was given the opportunity to showcase their restaurant with unique FRW menus. The week also included special entertainment, a downtown pub crawl and tap takeovers. Attendees were encouraged to visit multiple restaurants to earn stamps in their passports to qualify for a special prize at the end of the week. Last year’s prize was a commemorative pint glass and limited edition screen print poster.

Organizers said the first-year results were very encouraging:

  • Average of 32 percent increase in revenue across 18 different bars and restaurants compared to the same period one year prior. More than $171,000 increase in combined revenue.
  • Flint Farmers’ Market saw an increase of 3,116 customers during the week compared to the same week the year prior.
  • Of the Passports completed and returned, 72 percent were from zip codes outside of the city of Flint.
  • More than 15,000 people visited local bars and restaurant over the five-day period, according to the restaurant’s Point-of-Sale systems.
  • The two-day MLive ad blitz produced 263,954 impressions, with 925 click-throughs.
  • Billboard campaign consisted of eight different boards, with more than 5.1 million impressions over a four-week period.

Several establishments reported huge turnouts during the week, with sales comparable to those generated by Back to the Bricks’ traffic.

The organizers said the first year was also a learning experience, which will help them in planning future events. They also said that a number of partners rallied behind the effort.

“There is no possible way we could have pulled this event off without the outpouring support from the local community,” said Ruegsegger.

In addition to the C.S. Mott Foundation and GFAC, support was provided by: Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau; Michigan Restaurant Association; National Restaurant Association; Olmsted Associates, Inc.; Gordon’s Food Service; OUTFRONT Media; Townsquare Media; Sectorlink, graphic designer Brent Mosser, participating restaurants; and the countless number of others that offered up their help and support.

For more information about Flint Restaurant Week, contact Ken Laatz at (810) 620-4920 or Spencer Ruegsegger at (810) 610-2415.

(Story courtesy of the Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau.)