Newport Beach Restaurant Week to be postponed

Guests participate in the Newport Beach Restaurant Week kickoff party in January.
Guests participate in the Newport Beach Restaurant Week kickoff party at the Lincoln Experience Center at Fashion Island on Jan. 9.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Newport Beach Restaurant Week has been officially postponed.

Barring another delay, the 14-day-long dining event, initially scheduled for January, will take place in the spring. An official date has not been set.

In what would have been its 15th iteration, the postponement of the event comes in response to the pandemic. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom shifted Orange County — along with dozens of other counties — back into the purple, “widespread” tier.

Cases have skyrocketed, with Orange County hitting a single-day high of 1,422 new infections on Monday.

The change in tiers means a change in the restrictions surrounding businesses. For restaurants, that means a return to outdoor dining and takeout exclusively as indoor dining rooms are shuttered.

The decision was made last Wednesday during a Newport Beach Restaurant Assn. Business Improvement District meeting.

“We really decided it was just more prudent to push it forward to the spring. I think the community has been so supportive and I think if it was takeout only, they would be supportive of it,” said Carlos Godinez, Newport Beach Restaurant Assn. president. “But, it made more sense for the restaurants to cinch their belts and figure out what’s going on today.”

Godinez, who is also the general manager at Tavern House Kitchen + Bar, said that weather in California would still allow for outdoor dining and that the association wanted restaurants to be able to focus on their dining spaces through the holidays and the start of 2021.

He added that the association would be meeting again on Jan. 27 to firm up the timeline and details on how Restaurant Week will proceed in the spring, but that they “won’t let it get to the summer.”

“I think [Newport Beach Restaurant Week’s] always — for years now, it’s been an event that brings new faces to our restaurants,” Godinez said. “All the restaurants put together prefixed menus at varying prices. It’s an opportunity for people that maybe have never tried your restaurant or haven’t been there in years to sample all the rest of the restaurants in the community.”

Godinez said the event is great for guests, foodies and is a “shot in the arm” for restaurants, but that they didn’t want to take away from a difficult situation for restaurateurs and the health of their staffs.

“We just decided that where we are at today in Orange County, because we rolled back into the purple tier and because restaurants will have limited seating capacity and won’t have the bandwidth or the capital to participate during this time,” Godinez said. “We look forward to postponing and bringing it back in the spring and encourage the public to keep supporting local restaurants until then.”

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