Dine Out Lauderdale kicked off on Monday for six weeks of (somewhat) cheap dining in Fort Lauderdale (or Fork Lauderdale, as organizers like to refer to it). Clean Plate Charlie recently caught up with Jessica Savage, media relations director for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau -- which organizes the annual event -- to talk about the promotion.
"We are always looking for ways to keep the program fresh," Savage said via email. "New for 2012, we created a free new dining app for iTunes. The Fork Lauderdale Dining App features an enhanced GPS and filters allowing tech-savvy visitors to spin the dial and easily locate restaurants by cuisine or location plus nightlife bars and clubs."
Savage said the app includes suggestions and tips from locals and reviews from fellow patrons. Filters help narrow the search with options like "waterfront setting," "Sunday brunch," "rocking happy hour spots," and "GLBT." After the jump, find a brief Q&A with Savage about what else is new this year.
Clean Plate Charlie: How many years has Dine Out Lauderdale been going? How did it begin?
Savage: This is the sixth year of Dine Out Lauderdale. After witnessing the success of New York City Restaurant Week, and as the caliber of restaurants in Broward grew, the idea of a similar program in Broward was born. It took several years working with the restaurant community to design a program that would help drive more traffic to the restaurants during the shoulder season.
How are restaurants chosen? Do they pay to participate? Do you approach them or do they approach you?
The participating restaurants must meet certain criteria: Offer a three-course menu for $35 five days during the week and are highly rated by Zagat, local media, and TripAdvisor. There is a nominal fee to cover the cost for local promotions and advertising. In the first year or so we approached the top-rated restaurants to introduce Dine Out Lauderdale. With the success of the program and how well the restaurants have received the program, many now approach the CVB to participate.
Are there any numbers on how many diners participated last year in the promotion?
While we are not able to determine the number of diners, our measurement of success has been the anecdotal responses from the restaurants on how busy they are during Dine Out and how this is the most successful prix fixe menu campaign bringing in diners to the restaurants.
How has the event evolved or changed over the years?
We have grown from 35 restaurants to 43 participating restaurants this year and types of cuisines, menus, and restaurant locations has become more diversified.
Any new restaurants this year?
Dine Out Lauderdale continues through November 8.
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