Happy Valley Culinary Week kicks off soon, with dining and culinary experiences all over the region, June 11–17. Now in its sixth year, the event, organized by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau, continues to attract more participating businesses and diners.
“2018’s Happy Valley Culinary Week participants are a great example of dining from a local’s perspective,” said Lori Miller, interim executive director and director of visitor and member services at the CPCVB. “Our best locally-owned restaurants will be featuring specially-priced lunch and dinner prix fixe menu selections during June 11–17. It’s the perfect week to try something new, celebrate a special occasion or just enjoy a meal with family and friends.”
There are 10 restaurants participating in this year’s Culinary Week: The Tavern Restaurant, The Field Burger and Tap, Carnegie Inn and Spa, Harrison's Wine Grill and Catering, The Dining Room at the Nittany Lion Inn, Gigi’s Southern Table, Hi-Way Pizza, Inferno, Liberty Craft House and The Deli Restaurant. Most prix fixe menu selections consist of an appetizer, entrée and dessert, highlighting some of the best of the restaurant’s cuisine at an affordable price.
While Miller said it’s difficult to track the number of diners who take advantage of regional restaurants’ special menus during the week, “gauging feedback from our participants, they typically see an uptick in diners during Culinary Week and therefore continue to participate.” This community spirit and cooperation is one of the best aspects of Culinary Week, she said.
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Andy Rupert, director of marketing at the CPCVB, said the primary role of Culinary Week is to give appreciation to locally-owned and operated restaurants.
"This event gives us a chance to showcase some of those businesses to potential customers, that hopefully turn into regulars,” he said.
In addition to special menus, several businesses are offering other culinary experiences throughout the week. Webster’s Bookstore Café provides vegan cooking demonstrations at noon each day, with samples and special lunch menus to follow. Your Cigar Den hosts nightly cigar and beverage pairing events, with beer pairings from W.R. Hickey and JP Edward, a wine pairing by Hawstone Hollow Winery and a bourbon pairing. Duck Donuts allows kids and adults alike to indulge in a doughnut-making event. That family-friendly activity takes place 1-2 p.m. June 11-14. The $4 cost includes two donuts and all toppings. Another yet-to-be-announced culinary event is planned for The Branch and the Vine.
Beyond giving locals a great excuse to get out and experience the region’s fantastic cuisine, Happy Valley Culinary Week likewise fits into the CPCVB's overall tourism initiatives.
“Something that you see in tourism is the desire for a shareable and unique experience,” Rupert said. “Since we’ve implemented a social media tracking tool on various sections of our website, the number of food-related photos we’ve seen has been incredible. I think creating a small surge in customers to a restaurant also drives those shareable experiences people will put on Facebook, Instagram, etc., that get pushed out to their friends (and) family. There is no better referral that creates a FOMO (fear of missing out) moment than one from a close friend or family member enjoying their experience.”
However, whether you’re a local or just visiting, don’t wait until you experience that FOMO for yourself before booking your table at one of the participating restaurants or attending one of the many culinary experiences.
To view individual restaurant menus for the event and further culinary experience details, visit the Happy Valley Culinary Week website at www.happyculinaryweek.com.