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DFW Restaurant Week gets a taste of post-pandemic fundraising recovery

North Texas’ largest culinary event sees participation begin bouncing back post-pandemic.

According to trade reports, labor shortages and rising costs continued to create challenges for the restaurant industry in 2021 and traffic remained down compared to pre-pandemic levels. Still, organizers of DFW Restaurant Week announced this month that the campaign was able to generate $428,516 last summer for two area charities – an increase over 2020. It also generated much-needed business for local restaurants during pandemic recovery.

DFW Restaurant Week is North Texas’ largest culinary event and the second longest running restaurant week in the country. Each summer, diners enjoy prix fixe meals for a deal at fine dining restaurants across the area, with a portion of the price donated to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) or Lena Pope.

Nearly 100 restaurants around the Metroplex participated in DFW Restaurant Week 2021, donating 20% of the price of each prix fixe lunch or dinner purchased. Restaurants in the Dallas area raised $302,039 for NTFB. Tarrant area restaurants raised $126,47 for Lena Pope in Fort Worth.

“We want to extend our sincere gratitude to both the restaurants and diners who took part in DFW Restaurant Week at such a pivotal time,” said NTFB President and CEO Trisha Cunningham. “The campaign meals purchased across the Dallas area helped the Food Bank to in turn provide more than 906,000 meals for neighbors in need.”

In 2020, more than 90 restaurants participated in DFW Restaurant Week. Despite challenges during COVID-19 recovery, the campaign raised $182,844 for the designated charities. Pandemic-era adjustments that year included take-out options for diners and an adjusted charity donation structure to support local restaurants at a time when many businesses were struggling. Participating restaurants donated a reduced 10% (vs. usual 20%) of the price of each prix fixe lunch or dinner purchased.

Prior to the pandemic, DFW Restaurant Week raised a record $1 million in 2019. It represented the campaign’s largest charitable donations to date with more than 150 Metroplex restaurants participating. Over the past 25 years, DFW Restaurant Week has raised more than $10.7 million in donations for its charity partners.

The following restaurants are recognized as the DFW Restaurant Week Star Restaurants 2021 for the Dallas area, shown in order of largest charitable donations to NTFB:

  1. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse – Dallas
  2. Terra (Eataly)
  3. La Pizza & La Pasta (Eataly)
  4. Al Biernat’s – Oak Lawn
  5. Fachini
  6. Al Biernat’s – North
  7. The Oceanaire Seafood Room
  8. Table 13
  9. The Mansion Restaurant
  10. Morton’s The Steakhouse
  11. Nonna
  12. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse – Plano
  13. Lawry’s Prime Rib
  14. III Forks
  15. Silver Fox Steakhouse – Frisco
  16. Tommy Bahama
  17. Del Frisco’s Grille – Plano
  18. Il Pastaio (Eataly)
  19. Bulla Gastrobar
  20. Lavendou Bistro

The following restaurants are recognized as the DFW Restaurant Week Star Restaurants 2021 for the Tarrant area, shown in order of largest charitable donations to Lena Pope:

  1. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
  2. B&B Butchers & Restaurant
  3. Rise No. 3
  4. Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine
  5. Mac’s on Main
  6. Del Frisco’s Grille – Southlake
  7. Kirby’s Steakhouse
  8. Silver Fox Steakhouse
  9. The Classic at Roanoke
  10. Grace

First-time restaurant participants demonstrating extraordinary enthusiasm and support were also chosen by DFW Restaurant Week for its 2021 Newbie of the Year Award. Honorees include:
• Dallas Area – Eataly: Terra, La Pizza & La Pasta, Il Pastio
• Tarrant Area – Wicked Butcher

Beneficiary North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a top-ranked non-profit hunger-relief organization that sources, packages and distributes food through a network of more than 200 Partner Agencies across 13 North Texas counties. The organization also provides food to children, seniors and families through various direct-delivery programs, including mobile pantries. In its last fiscal year, the NTFB provided access to more than 125 million nutritious meals, a 28% percent increase over the prior year.

In response to the ongoing elevated hunger crisis, the organization has launched a $500 million campaign, Nourish North Texas, to provide more food for today and hope for tomorrow by addressing the barriers to food security. NTFB is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

Lena Pope, beneficiary of Tarrant County restaurants, works to improve child well-being. The agency provides evidence-based, research-tested programs focusing on prevention and early intervention services that support child development and improve the behavioral and mental health of children and families.

“The community support for both local restaurants and our mission has been especially impactful over the past few years as we all continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic,” said Lena Pope CEO Ashley Elgin, Ph.D. “Tarrant area diners and restaurants can take heart in knowing that every delicious DFW Restaurant Week meal has helped Lena Pope meet the increasing demand for mental health services and support for children and families in our community.”

DFW Restaurant Week 2021 was presented by Metroplex Cadillac Dealers and is an Audacy event. The campaign was sponsored by Atmos Energy, Beef Loving Texans (Texas Beef Council), FedEx Office, Garrison Brothers Distillery, OpenTable, Society Insurance, 214 Interactive and The Lovell Group.

In 2022, DFW Restaurant Week is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The campaign will officially run the week of Aug. 8 – 14, with many restaurants taking part in preview weekend and/or extending participation through Sept. 4.

Further details on the special anniversary campaign will be announced this summer. publishes every week.
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About the author

Mindia Whittier