CHICO, Calif. – The fourth annual Restaurant Week kicked off Friday in Butte County.
The 10-day culinary event showcases restaurants with local ingredients.
Restaurants like Stoble in downtown Chico are hoping their dinner specials this week will attract more people.
Stoble’s kitchen manager, Nathan Johnson, wants people to know they are more than a cafe and a place to work.
He hopes adding new options to their menu will boost sales and expand their reach.
Downtown restaurants told Action News Now they have seen a slowdown in recent weeks.
“This month of January has been pretty quiet,” Johnson said. “It’s helped us work on the new things we’ve been organizing as we prepare for another big uptick and another year.”
They will be serving dinner Thursday through Saturday on the rooftop. They start with their new specials this weekend which include dishes like honey roasted kabocha squash salad and caldo de camarones, a shrimp soup.
Businesses like Woodstock’s Pizza in downtown Chico have also been slow.
“Just like with COVID and everything, fewer people have come in and our older age and customers [are] really like the students at Chico State,” quartermaster Marcus Bittle said. “With them gone for winter break, there’s no one here at the moment, it’s pretty much dead.”
Stoble and Woodstock’s said much of their staff was made up of students. Bittle can’t wait for Chico State students to start school next week.
He told Action News Now that they typically make around $15,000 on an average Tuesday with their two-for-one deal.
Lately, Bittle said it’s been tough because they only made around $5,000 on the day of the trade.
This restaurant week they are offering a large pizza with a pitcher of beer for $25.
Bittle is also looking forward to advertising more of its alcoholic beverages this year in hopes of attracting more people and boosting sales.
Other restaurants like Deja Vu Breakfast Company just opened five months ago. They hope Restaurant Week will make their name more widely known.
It’s been a challenge for them to open during the pandemic.
Deja Vu owner Christian Griffith told Action News Now that one of the most difficult things has been that people’s eating habits have changed. Even though they offer take-out orders, his vision was for experiential dining.
Still, they’re cooking up new dishes as they face other hurdles caused by COVID.
“There are major supply chain issues that can add a big headache when a product doesn’t show up and then just spending the time and trying to research and find different items in stores,” said Griffith.
Deja Vu’s head chef, Spencer Honne, is delighted to introduce a new dish this week for restaurant week, a Florentine Benedictine.
“Right now it’s pretty hard to find something to do,” Honne said. “So we’re making sure everyone gets what they need. And I’ve had great feedback so far and people are enjoying the food.”
Griffith said some products have doubled in price, making it difficult when they see slower days.
He also said the labor shortage is real. Some of the staff are also students from Chico State who will be returning this week. However, much of their business does not come from students as they are farther from campus.
Griffith is still very grateful for all the community support he has had since they opened.
Restaurant Week is a partnership between the nonprofit Explore Butte County, the Downtown Chico Business Association, and local chambers of commerce.
Special menus should cost $15 or $25.
You can click here to see a full list of all participating restaurants.