Under clear skies and unseasonably mild weather Tuesday evening, the first night of 2013’s The Big Eat was a success for downtown Winston-Salem’s restaurants and diners. Casual diners, hard core foodies, and an after work crowd stuck around downtown to take advantage of the 50% off signature dishes at many of our most popular restaurants. Organized by the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, this is The Big Eat’s fifth year of bringing Winston-Salem diners an opportunity to try Camel City’s downtown dining offerings.
Chris True, a manager at Spring House, told CCD, “For a Tuesday this has been a big night. Let’s put it this way, reservations are definitely recommended for The Big Eat.” When asked if diners were purchasing the signature dish (a slow-cooked pork shank) True stated that more than half of the diners had selected the special offering.
Bibs Downtown was so full of patrons that managers were having to help bus tables and the general buzz about the place at times seemed as busy as the New York Stock Exchange. Asked if this was a typical crowd for a Tuesday night manager Barbara Bradshaw said, “This is NOT normal. This is crazy.” as she grinned from ear to ear. Mike Harggett, the other manager on duty, stated, “We’re pretty slammed. This place is really hopping for a Tuesday.” Bibs Downtown was offering their pulled pork plate at 50% off.
At Foothill’s Brewery, Evan Lyles the manager on duty, said that they have their fish and chips at half price every Tuesday. Even though The Big Eat falls on the same night, Lyles said the event has given them a boost. “We’ve most definitely seen an increase. Tuesday’s are usually slow before seven, but we’ve seen a significant increase in the dinner crowd with twice as many people coming in between 5 and 5:30 as usual.” After taking advantage of the 50% off ale-battered fish and chips patrons can stay for Foothill’s Tuesday night trivia events.
At Hutch & Harris they sold over 120 Moravian Chicken Pies, their signature dish. “We got busy tonight a little after 5:00 and stayed busy all night”, said hostess Devin Williams, “People are getting deals on food so they are swarming downtown.” Manager Michael Dwinell said, “We sold out of our signature dish by 8pm.”
Community Arts Cafe reported a definite “pop” in their crowd, but pointed out that many people don’t realize that they are and will be open for The Big Eat. Even though some folks didn’t know that they were participating, the Cafe’ managed to sell out of their special- the Cafe’ Burger. Manager Kathy Tedder told CCD that “We will definitely be open next week.” After dining, patrons can also take part in events downstairs at the Community Arts Cafe’s Underground Theatere. After Tuesday’s Big Eat there was a comedy variety show and next week there will be an open mic presented by Winston-Salem Writers.
Wolfie’s offered double and triple scoops for 50% off. Employees reported that there had been a line to the door all evening. CCD met a couple of diners out on a “Date Night” who had stopped by Wolfie’s to grab dessert first. Jeremiah Davis and Jim Olive said they’ve been attending The Big Eat since the event began. “We appreciate the opportunity to take advantage of these great discounts, because otherwise I might not be able to afford to try a restaurant like Spring House. We can’t miss a Tuesday.” Davis and Olive said that they were heading to Kings Crab Shack and possibly 6th & Vine to round out the evening.
At Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth) Co-Owner Vivian Joiner told CCD that “The Big Eat really helps as we go into the Winter months. January and February tend to be very slow- especially when people get those holiday credit card bills.” They reported a definite increase in their Tuesday night crowd. Sweet Potatoes will be changing their signature offering each week. Tuesday they offered “Spaghetti with a Drawl” and next week they plan on offering catfish.
Josh Norman, a barista at Chelsees’ Coffee Shop, appreciates the bump The Big Eat gives local businesses. “Winter time is always very spotty,” he said. “January and February are pretty hard for everybody.” Chelsee’s was offering an Italian Cream Cake as their special of the evening, but Norman said patrons buy more than just the special. “The people who come in are so nice, “Norman stated, “They are just out having a good time.”
“This is a really good opportunity for people to see the ‘Mom & Pops’ and support local businesses.” said Nathan Smith, another Chelsees’ barista.
Whether your concern is buying local, exploring new dining options, or just looking for a great deal on dinner, The Big Eat offers Winston-Salem’s diners an across the board opportunity to find out exactly how vibrant our downtown has become. The Big Eat will continue every Tuesday night until February 26th.
Aren’t familiar with downtown, want to find a restaurant or are worried about available parking for The Big Eat? Here is a parking and restaurant guide for downtown: