The quick little story of Maine Restaurant Week
It started in 2008 when faced with the common question of how restaurants were going to get through winter, most owners and chefs had just one choice. They would scale their staff to minimum size, cut hours, reduce orders, and in doing so, diminish company culture. That was the story 13 winters ago and for many winters before then. Mostly, local- and independently-owned restaurants went quiet during winter, hoping summer business would make up off-season losses. In doing so, for many years, these owners had to reinvent themselves each spring and count on talented laid-off staff returning to the team so the identity of the operation would again be whole.
It was profoundly clear to us that the talented people we worked with at the time, Chef Matthews at Back Bay Grill and Chef Evans at Hugo's, for example, wanted a winter boost. With these two and the dozens of good relationships we had with chefs and owners through Portland's annual Taste of the Nation fundraising dinners and Harvest on the Harbor, we quickly became convinced that we needed to organize a winter restaurant celebration.
It was fall 2008, and Maine Restaurant Week was born March 1, 2009. It came together very quickly— the response that year, and every winter has been excellent.
We asked ourselves how in the world can anyone possibly run a restaurant business by cutting staff and betting on summer? We asked ourselves what we could do to help. We also asked ourselves what we could do for our community, beyond the hospitality community, because we didn't feel good about not including caring for our neighbors in need in a massive dining out celebration. That's where the desire for helping Preble Street enters into the MRW equation.
By asking ourselves how we could help, a community of food and drink lovers was born. We have met hundreds of incredibly lovely people. We love that MRW attracts friendly people and great partners.
Cut to March 2021, and the message of MRW is still a good and meaningful one. The restaurant community has matured along with MRW, and winter is always tough on local businesses. The truth is, like nearly every small business, the challenges of being a chef, bookkeeper, HR, and customer service manager are exhausting. So, it feels good to give participating restaurants a boost during winter.
So there you have it, the MRW story.
Now mask-up and go enjoy some outdoor seating, order curbside pickup, or dine indoors. Celebrate and give participating restaurants a boost.
Gillian and Jim Britt
Creators of MRW
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MRW celebrates local- and independently owned restaurants. Read More.