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Spokane Restaurant Week begins Friday and runs through March 3

Cheryl Kilday moved to Spokane about two and half years ago and, like any new resident, she began asking the people she met about great local restaurants. It surprised her when a few told her there weren’t any culinary gems in Spokane.

Now, as the president and chief executive officer of Visit Spokane, she can tick off a list of some of her favorite places – Wild Sage, Scratch, Spencer’s and Churchill’s, to name a few – and she hopes a new event that starts this week will help reverse any perception of Spokane as a city of questionable culinary talent. Spokane Restaurant Week starts Friday and will run through March 3.

“Our hope is that we can get people thinking differently about our restaurants,” Kilday said. “We need to improve the image of our restaurants within our community. … That way, if you’re downtown and someone walks up and asks where to eat, we don’t tell them there are no great places.”

Visit Spokane teamed with the Inlander weekly newspaper to organize the 10-day run of special menus and prices at restaurants around Spokane. Sterling Bank and URM Food Service are sponsors. Kilday said they hoped they would be able recruit 40 restaurants to participate this year and ended up with 53.

“It’s been a couple of years in the making and we’re really excited because we do expect it to become an annual event,” Kilday said. “There are communities like ours that have more than one per year.”

Participating restaurants will be offering special prix fixe (fixed-price) menus during Spokane Restaurant Week. The three-course menus are either $18 or $28 depending on the restaurant. The menus are posted on the Spokane Restaurant Week website at www.restaurantweek, but diners can also order from the regular menu.

Kilday said they settled on February for the event because it can be a slow time for restaurants and a difficult time to draw out-of-town visitors. It also dovetails with Visit Spokane’s winter campaign centering on a recent finding that some travelers come to Spokane for a couple’s getaway, Kilday said. Also, tourism research from the past couple of years indicates culinary opportunities are now among the top three factors when people decide where to travel and stay, she added.

For local food lovers, Spokane Restaurant Week will be a great way to try a new restaurant or eat at a new restaurant without worrying about the tab.

“For people who have always wanted to go to someplace like Churchill’s, to be able to go there for $28 per person for a three-course meal makes it … approachable and they are going to be able to go and be really excited about it,” Kilday said. “For people who have their five favorite places, it’s an encouragement to go someplace that they haven’t tried yet. We all get in a rut.”

But the Spokane Restaurant Week is not just about discounting, Kilday said. They encouraged restaurants to think of it as a chance to introduce themselves to diners – a little like a first date.

Some regional wineries, breweries and Dry Fly Distillery are participating in a campaign to highlight local drinking options during Spokane Restaurant Week. Watch for specials from those wine, beer and spirits makers around town. Details are on the Spokane Restaurant Week website under the “Drink Local” tab.

A complete list of restaurants participating in Spokane Restaurant Week and the menus are online at