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SWFL Restaurant Week: Cape eateries join dining fest for foodies

By Staff | Nov 30, 2017

For the first time, Cape Coral venues are taking part in the semi-annual SWFL Restaurant Week.

Organized by Food Idea Group, the promotion celebrates dining out at an affordable price by partnering up with area restaurants to offer three-course, prix-fixe dinner menus starting at just $25 or $35. The winter event – the first one is in the spring – features five restaurants in the Cape.

“This is our first year expanding into the Cape,” Guy Clarke, who co-founded the promotion with Rafael J. Feliciano, said. “The Cape scene is amazing – in the last two years, you’ve gone from this sleepy little town on the food scene to this kick-ass food scene. The Cape has taken it up a notch.”

The local venues taking part include:

* Gather, 5971 Silver King Blvd.

* La Corte Bistro, 1520 Lafayette St.

* Maria’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, 1224 S.E. 46th Lane

* Point 57, 3522 Del Prado Blvd.

* Tasty Cultures, 4518 Del Prado Blvd., Suite 1

“We have four easy steps to participate,” he said for customers.

Visit the website www.swflrestaurantweek.com and pick a city, like the Cape. Peruse the menus and pick a restaurant, then make a reservation; while a reservation is not always needed, it is suggested.

“When you arrive, order from the Restaurant Week menu,” Clarke said.

SWFL Restaurant Week runs now through Dec. 13.

“All the menus are up on the website and are broken down by city,” he said, adding that there are also promotions for Fort Myers and Sanibel for the first time, along with the original Naples promotion.

Clarke explained that customers will pick an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, with some of the participating restaurants allowing for some flexibility. Some even offer special upgrades and deals.

Restaurant Week is a trend that has gained steam throughout the country.

“It’s run differently in every city out there,” he said.

Both foodies, Clarke and Feliciano noticed that Southwest Florida was missing out.

“We saw this gap. We didn’t really have anything highlighting our food scene,” he said. “We took this national idea and put a local spin on it – we just wanted to try and give these restaurants a voice.”

This marks the third year for the Naples event and there are dozens of participating venues. Clarke explained that they were contacted by restaurants in the Cape and Fort Myers about taking part.

“It was really just the demand from the restaurants,” he said of the expansion.

“The Cape’s food scene is growing,” Clarke added.

SWFL Restaurant Week benefits customers, as well as the venues and their employees.

“They can try out a new restaurant and not put their whole wallet on the line,” he said, adding that customers can also visit their favorite spot for a deal. “You’re getting it at an affordable price.”

As for the restaurants, Clarke explained that they usually see a lull in business leading up to the holidays. The event helps to bring in revenue for them and tips for staff and may prevent job cuts.

“It also supports local farmers, who support the restaurants,” he said.

To kick off the promotion, a “First Bite” Menu Release Party was held last month. Attendees got a sneak peek of the prix fixe menus and enjoyed samples from over 25 of the participating venues.

The proceeds benefited the Humane Society of Naples and Gulf Coast Humane Society.

Clarke invited residents and visitors to get out and dine.

“Let’s turn Southwest Florida into an amazing culinary culture,” he said.

For more information or the restaurant lists, visit www.swflrestaurantweek.com.