For Rick Woo, it just wouldn’t feel right charging full price for his menu items during the offseason.
“It’s all locals at my restaurants, and they don’t make very much money right now!” Woo said with a laugh.
Woo owns Vail restaurants Sushi Oka and May Palace and said between now and the start of the ski season, about 85 percent of his business will come from local residents, while the remaining 15 percent will be out-of-town spenders coming mostly on the weekends. For that fall clientele, Woo’s offering deep discounts — 30 percent off the total bill at May Palace and 40 percent at Sushi Oka.
“It keeps people coming in, and it makes me feel good giving discounts to my friends and neighbors,” he said.
If you’re among those locals that Woo was referring, then indeed you may be tightening your belt in the days to come. But with all the great deals on gourmet food at local restaurants, you may have to loosen it right back up again.
“It is offseason, but for the good deals, it’s on-season right now,” Woo said.
‘Let’s really do a discount’
Indeed, the deals are on at Terra Bistro in the Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa — 50-percent-off entrees will be enjoyed by diners from now until the lifts start turning.
“When we decided we wanted to do a discount, we said let’s really do a discount,” said Tony McNally, manager. “And so far, this offseason’s been great. I’ve been here since ’78, and I’m seeing faces I haven’t seen in years here in the restaurant. People are telling me — not that it’s anything we’re doing — that maybe they haven’t been here in a while, so it’s been really great getting them back in and enjoying the menu ... we’ve been hearing such positive comments.”
McNally said their peppered Amish beef fillet is going to be a hit during the 50-percent-off special.
“It’s a popular entree at its normal price of $38, so to be able to come in and try it for under $20 is pretty spectacular,” he said.
Restaurant week ... or month?
On Oct. 6 in Vail Village, both Terra Bistro and La Tour were packed with people. It was the final night of the Vail Restaurant Week, an annual event that was shortened from a month to a week this year and beefed up with even more specials.
“The restaurant week has been a big success,” said Thomas Guthrie, La Tour’s general manager.
The idea this year was to offer specials priced at $20.13 from participating restaurants.
And a great idea it was, Guthrie said.
“I couldn’t believe how popular it was,” he said.
As a result, Guthrie and La Tour’s owner-executive chef, Paul Ferzacca, decided to extend the deal.
“We thought people may not have had a chance to try all the items priced at $20.13, so this will give them a chance to come on in and try that other item they may have noticed,” Ferzacca said.
Beaver Creek was also included in the Vail Restaurant Week this year, with restaurants such as Hooked, Grouse Mountain Grill and Vin48 participating, among many others.
Like Ferzacca, Vin48 co-owner Collin Baugh is also extending out his Restaurant Week special.
“We’ve always done $18 entrees during offseason, so that’s the deal we offered during Restaurant Week, and we decided to keep that going throughout October,” he said. “We consider ourselves a true locals’ restaurant, and our main offseason deal for locals is our happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m., where we offer $5 glasses of wine, $3 premium draft beers and $8 small plates.”
And some of Baugh’s small plates aren’t so small.
“Our braised Colorado goat is definitely a larger small plate,” he said. “It comes from Jumping Good Goats here in Colorado, and they have some of the best goat cheese in the country, which we also use in a lot of our other dishes.”
At Beaver Creek’s new seafood restaurant Hooked, owner Riley Romanin said he was glad to jump on board with Restaurant Week, as well. Hooked will stay open through Saturday, then re-open on Nov. 1 with great deals from now until ski season starts.
“We’re new, so we’re offering some ridiculous deals, Restaurant Week or no Restaurant Week,” he said. “We’ll have different specials every night.”
Here’s a few other stand-out deals to take advantage of during the offseason.
• Kelly Liken in Vail will stay open Wednesday to Sunday during the offseason and is offering three courses for $45 and 50-percent off select bottles of wine.
• Grouse Mountain Grill is only staying open until Saturday, but up until then you can take advantage of their Fall Tasting Menu — three courses for $39.
• Nozawa Sushi has locations in both West Vail and Avon and is offering 50-percent off all sushi rolls and entrees.
For more deals, check out the inside back cover of the Vail Daily Weekly or the advertisements in the Vail Daily.
Staff writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and email@example.com.