In a year of steady cancellations, it’s time to anticipate a new event that is happening only because of Covid-19.
Fans of Savor Fort Wayne, a Visit Fort Wayne initiative to get people into the city’s diverse and delectable restaurants, will be happy to know that there is a summer version planned for this year, something that would not be happening if not for the pandemic.
Good time to step up
“Typically Savor Fort Wayne is around the second week of January, and we start planning for the next one as soon as that one is over,” said Emily Stuck, programs and events manager for Visit Fort Wayne. “We’d always talked about doing one in the summer, but summer is usually such a busy time for us.”
When the lockdown was announced in late March, the folks at Visit Fort Wayne were about to welcome the Division I women’s regional bracket for the NCAA March Madness tournament. In the blink of an eye, that was canceled along with a bevy of other anticipated events.
But that wide-open schedule provided an opportunity.
“The tourism sector was very hard hit by the quarantine,” Stuck said. “I mean, everyone’s been hit hard, but the tourism sector has been especially hit with restaurants and hotels having to close during what should have been a busy time. We had always thought about a Summer Savor, and we thought this would be a good time and started making plans quietly around April. It was hard to know what to expect when we reopened, but we just started talking about it then.”
Special menu for you
For those who may not have taken advantage of this culinary opportunity in previous years, Savor Fort Wayne features a wide variety of restaurants and breweries which offer special menu deals for those visiting during the Savor dates (this summer’s is August 5-16).
Normally the restaurants pay a registration fee to participate, with that money being used to market the event and the eateries. But this time there’s a bit of a change.
“We felt like asking these restaurants to pay a registration fee now wasn’t right,” Stuck said. “So we’ve been appealing to our sponsors more than ever to help us pay for the marketing.
“We actually held off awhile on marketing or even announcing anything because we needed to see how the governor’s Back on Track plan went, and we were supposed to be at stage 5 by July 4. That’s been pushed back, so we’re trying to make it work with the restaurants and make it more comfortable for everyone who wants to participate.
“In the past it was dine-in only because we wanted to pack those restaurants. Obviously now, that can’t happen, and the restaurants have been great to work with in all of this. Most of them that stayed open or have reopened have been doing a lot of carryout orders, so they have that system down, and some of the restaurants have outdoor seating which may be more comfortable for some. And then other people might just say, ‘I’m ready to go back to Club Soda,’ and will prefer to eat in the restaurant.
“We just recommend that those who plan to eat in call ahead for a reservation so the restaurant can make sure they maintain the capacity and a crowd doesn’t gather.”
Great time to get out of the house
Stuck said the August dates were set because it’s typically the time that kids go back to school or families are on their last vacation of the summer. But with all of that still up in the air, Summer Savor provides an excellent chance to get out of the house, even if it’s just to pick up take-out.
Menu offerings from each of the 28 participating restaurants are being added daily to the savorfortwayne.com website. Additionally, there are icons indicating which restaurants offer patio seating and which offer carryout options, providing flexibility for wherever diners are in their comfort level.
“We’re really excited about the variety of restaurants we have participating this time,” Stuck said. “They’re really all over the spectrum and include some old names, some new names, and all different kinds of cuisine.
“And people can check our website to see who’s offering what. It also provides information about each participating restaurant and what they prefer. For example, Ruth’s Chris prefers that you call first.
“Each restaurant has been great to work with, and it’s nice to help them after some tough months. The statistic for tourism is that 47 percent of those jobs have been affected by Covid, and some of the restaurants are just reopening,” Stuck said. “Many of them have smaller staffs now, so it’s really important to support our local restaurants right now and remind the community that they’re still there.”
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