Monday, November 12, 2001

Washington area restaurants are hungry for more business.
Officials are hoping the city’s first-ever Restaurant Week, which starts today will help satisfy their appetites.
Restaurant Week is designed to bring more business to the area’s economy, which is still struggling after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“Now more than ever it is crucial that we continue to build consumer confidence by showing the nation that Washington, D.C., is open for business,” says William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive of the Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp.
The 120 or so restaurants participating in Restaurant Week will offer special three-course menus for $20.01 at lunch and $30.01 at dinner. For instance McCormick & Schmick’s on K Street Northwest will offer a dinner menu of soup or salad for the first course, salmon or swordfish for the main dish and a choice of dessert.
The District’s Restaurant Week is modeled after New York City’s successful promotion, which the city has done for several years twice a year. This year new York City held another Restaurant Week beginning Oct. 15 as a result of the September 11 attacks and the major loss in business thereafter. The program was so successful, with about 150 restaurant participating, that city officials extended it through Oct. 31.
The first week resulted in a 46 percent increase in patrons and a 39 percent increase in sales at participating restaurants, according to a survey released by NYC & Co. the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Holiday shopping helper
The District will have another tax-free shopping holiday starting later this month in an effort to strengthen the local economy.
From Nov. 23 to Dec. 2 the District will eliminate its 5.75 percent sales tax on all clothing, shoes and accessories costing $100 or less. The period includes two holiday shopping weekends.
The legislation, passed early last week by the D.C. Council, was co-authored by Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat and Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican.
“We are attempting to encourage residents, workers and visitors to spend money in the District a step we believe will help further strengthen the District’s economy,” Mr. Brazil says.
The District’s first-ever tax-free shopping week took place Aug. 3 through Aug. 12 just in time for the back-to-school shopping crowd. City officials and retailers claim it was a success, despite the overlap with Maryland’s tax-free shopping holiday, which ran Aug. 10 through Aug. 16.
Hecht’s, the only major department store downtown, saw a considerable increase in sales that week and officials expect the same after Thanksgiving.
“We think sales this time around will be even greater because it’s during the busiest shopping season of the year,” says Guy Rohling, a spokesman for May Department Stores, which owns Hecht’s. Mr. Rohling also says the city is at a unique advantage because it is currently the only jurisdiction offering such a deal during the holiday season.
Federal lawmakers introduced similar legislation calling for a nationwide tax-free holiday during the same week.

Opening for business

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884 or Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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