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Restaurant Week returns with emphasis on helping industry

Updated June 7, 2021 - 8:35 am

As the pandemic wanes and Las Vegas comes dancing back to the stage, Restaurant Week returns this year — but with a few changes.

Three Square food bank has long used the annual event, the 14th iteration of which begins today and runs through June 18, as a primary funding source to help food-insecure people in Southern Nevada. Since its inception, Restaurant Week has raised the equivalent of more than 5.5 million meals. But the organization has shifted this year’s event to also support local restaurants, which were first hit with operating restrictions and now a labor shortage.

During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants — nearly 200 this year — design specific menus and usually designate $4 to $6 for each menu sold to the food bank. This year, that amount has been changed to $1, with the restaurants keeping the balance. Additionally, this year’s event includes takeout options, and instead of being required to offer a three-course menu, the businesses can choose a specialty menu, or takeout-only.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab at the Forum Shops at Caesars has participated in Restaurant Week since the beginning. Managing partner Dave Quillen said the reason is the food bank’s vital role in the community.

“It’s so community-based, it’s almost illogical not to,” he said. “Just being a part of it and being able to help an organization that does so much for needy families, and being able to help kids in school-lunch programs still get healthy meals during the summer, is so important.”

This year, Joe’s is offering a menu of a BLT Wedge Salad or Joe’s Chopped Salad followed by grilled Alaskan halibut with peas and charred lemon vinaigrette, or an 8-ounce filet mignon with Jennie’s Mashed Potatoes and broccolini, concluding with blueberry or Key lime pie, for $60.

Quillen said this year’s menu, like those in the past, is a blend of seasonal or specialty dishes such as the halibut and signatures such as the salads and pies. The signatures, he said, tend to be the most popular.

“We sell more of those meals, so hopefully we can donate more to Three Square,” he said.

In the early years, Quillen said, the event was a way to bring in new customers, but it has evolved to interest mostly regulars, many of whom are in the industry.

“We see more familiar faces — maybe people we only see once a year, but they do come out for this,” he said. “We’re very fortunate. It’s a great way for restaurants in this town to give back.”

For a list of restaurants and menus, go to restaurantweeklv.org.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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