In a normal year, Inlander Restaurant Week takes place from late February to early March, but even a year after the pandemic's onset, 2021 is still not a "normal" year.
Announcements of permanent restaurant closures across the region continue to trickle in, paired with ever-changing statewide restrictions on dining out.
So for 2021, the traditional Inlander Restaurant Week — a 10-day celebration of the region's culinary excellence in which participating venues showcase their best via three-course, fixed price menus — is moving to what's hoped to be a more stable time, Aug. 19-28. Then next year, the event will return to late winter, Feb. 24-March 5, 2022.
In place of what would usually be Restaurant Week, coordinators at the Inlander, with the help of community partners, opted for something a little different. The Great Dine Out will be a two-week event, March 11-27, featuring about 120 participating restaurants in Spokane and Kootenai counties. Those restaurants each will highlight three signature dishes, anything from a popular entree to family-style takeout meals, cocktails to go, desserts, etc.
There won't be any set pricing, rather the goal of the event is to encourage diners to support the area's local, independently owned restaurants after a yearlong struggle that continues to hamper the hospitality industry. The Great Dine Out coincides with the one-year anniversary of the initial pandemic shutdown in March 2020.
Since public health regulations affecting restaurants during the event window are unknown, the hope is that diners can support their neighborhood eateries or try something new to them, in whichever way they feel most comfortable, via takeout, outdoor or open-air seating, or indoor dining if it's again allowed by that time.
There is no cost for restaurants to participate; however, spots are limited. The Great Dine Out is made possible by collaborative financial support from 12 regional institutions: STCU, Washington Trust Bank, Idaho Central Credit Union, BECU, P1FCU, Progressions Credit Union, First Interstate Bank, Banner Bank, Canopy Credit Union, Umpqua Bank, Wheatland Bank and Horizon Credit Union.
An event guide highlighting restaurants' event menus will be released in the March 11 edition of the Inlander and online at inlander.com/greatdineout. ♦