The opening for Metro State’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center is more than a year away, but already a who’s who of Colorado’s hospitality leaders has converged on the Auraria Campus to toast an $8 billion part of the industry: restaurants.
Denver Mayor Guillermo “Bill” Vidal was accompanied by nearly 50 local chefs at a press conference, hosted by Metro State, at the Tivoli Student Union on Feb. 25 to officially kick off the 7th Annual Denver Restaurant Week (DRW).
It runs Feb. 26 through March 11.
During DRW, all 301 participating restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for the “mile high” price of $52.80 for two or $26.40 for one, tax and gratuity not included. The participation is a record number for the event, up 7 percent from the 282 that participated in 2010. DRW is organized by Visit Denver, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Restaurants create a wonderful sense of our community. They have the ability to make our community stand out,” said Vidal.
Ed Bucholtz, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center and 2011 chair of Visit Denver, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, said those in attendance at the press conference were “a witness to the last bit of peace and quiet they (the chefs) will have for the next couple of weeks. Last year, more than 335,000 people dined out during restaurant week, and this year, with even more restaurants participating, we are confident that we will set a new record for meals served nationally.”
In introducing Metro State Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Foundation Executive Director Carrie Besnette Hauser, Bucholtz thanked Metro State for “exposing young people to our industry.”
Besnette Hauser highlighted the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events as one of the College’s “centers of excellence. You will see the physical manifestation come out of the ground pretty quickly” with the groundbreaking for the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center scheduled March 31. She also emphasized the College’s partnership with the Colorado Restaurant Association for the Denver Food and Wine Classic, which the College has hosted on campus for the last two years.
Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, addressed the importance of restaurants to the economy. “Taxes from restaurant sales go to build schools, roads, prisons and the city’s infrastructure.”
He added, “Half of all adults have worked in restaurants at one time.”
Vidal, who read a proclamation declaring Feb. 26 to March 11 as Denver Restaurant Week, concurred. “I waited on tables to work my way through school (at the University of Colorado),” said Vidal, who raised an oversized glass of wine to toast the beginning of the city-wide celebration. For a complete list of all 301 participating restaurants and menus, visit Denver Restaurant Week.
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