ALBUQUERQUE - New Mexico’s premier Restaurant Week created a celebratory ambiance that brought diners out in droves despite the worst economy in decades, providing a much-needed boost to the community’s spirit and revenue.


An estimated 47,000 diners turned out for Restaurant Week in Santa Fe and Albuquerque between February 28 and March 7. According to a survey of participating restaurants, more than half of all Restaurant Week diners came out specifically to take advantage of the value-priced dinners.


“It was like Valentine’s day for most of the week,” says Chris Harvey, partner and general manager for Geronimo. “Half of our customers were there because of Restaurant Week, and we sold out for most seatings. The event far exceeded our expectations.”


Based on the incredible response, Restaurant Week is scheduled to become a semi-annual promotion, with the next one planned for early November, said Michele Ostrove, president of Wings Media Network, the public relations and marketing firm that organized the promotion. “We are delighted with the enthusiastic turnout of the community and the overwhelming success enjoyed by the restaurants,” she said.


New Mexico Restaurant Week more than lived up to its intended goals: to entice local diners out to eat several times during the week and to try new restaurants, and to bring out-of-town visitors to the region during the shoulder season. Results indicated that nearly 40 percent of diners were patronizing the restaurant for the first time, and 29 percent were from out of town. 


“It worked great for us,” said Rorik Rivenburgh, marketing director at Sandiago’s Mexican Grill at the Sandia Peak Tram—one of the Albuquerque restaurants that offered the “two for $25” price point. “Our numbers were up significantly, and we got great positive feedback. I think a lot of people were interested to see the value there.” He said that about 40 percent of their customers came in specifically because of Restaurant Week, and 30 percent were visiting Sandiago’s for the first time.


Besides helping restaurants attract new customers and giving people the chance to sample the culinary treasures of northern New Mexico, Restaurant Week had an added benefit. The event generated an estimated $98,000 in additional tax revenue to the State of New Mexico, helping offset losses from reduced sales in other areas.


“The Tourism Department commends this effort to boost revenue for the industry during the March shoulder season. We have heard nothing but good reviews regarding Restaurant Week, and are looking forward to great future success,” said Jennifer Hobson, deputy cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Tourism Department.


Hotel Santa Fe Food and Beverage Director Corey Fidler said, “We were thrilled and surprised by the level of success. So many guests that week had never tried our Amaya restaurant and stated they will be returning regularly. We developed a whole new list of patrons from Restaurant Week and we are looking forward to being part of the next one.”


These are some additional New Mexico Restaurant Week statistics:


-         New Mexico’s first Restaurant Week brought in more than $2.6 million in revenue—an increase of $1.2 million over the previous year.


-         Restaurants reported an average business increase of 72 percent over the week prior to Restaurant Week, and 62 percent over the same time last year.


-         Nearly 40,000 people visited the website ( from mid-February to mid-March. Participating restaurants received 96,000 page views.


-         Almost half of participating restaurants sold out at least one night during Restaurant Week. Several of the restaurants surveyed sold out more than three nights.


-         Seventy-nine percent of diners ordered additional menu items (i.e., beverages, etc.), helping restaurants to offset the discounted prices.