Sofia is not New York. The same applies the other way around. But those two cities have a few things in common, such as the percentage of taxi drivers who are stressed-out, the noise, and Restaurant Week. Except in New York City that event has been going on since 1992, in Sofia it will start on September 11th, 2016.
Yes, Sofia now has a metropolitan event. Even the municipality is excited, since this event, developed and organized and by Restaurant Week Bulgaria, a partnership between Inside & Out and zavedenia.com, is added value for Sofia as a tourist destination. They call this “destination marketing”. But City Hall officials are not the only ones looking forward to this. Everyone is, including restaurant owners and gourmet fans. For the latter, the event is an excellent opportunity to try new places and eat excellent food for a more than affordable price. Restaurant owners have the opportunity to convince new customers. For them, there is nothing comparable, meaning Sofia Restaurant Week is really the only cultural event which can and will make a difference. Without Sofia Restaurant Week, they have to rely on their own promotion, their own ads and buzz marketing. Sofia Restaurant Week is already very popular, even before it started. So popular, that there already are impostors in the business, who are using that title for their own purposes.
This is how Sofia Restaurant Week 2016 works: Twenty-five is the magic number. Twenty-five excellent restaurants are taking part. Twenty-five Leva is the special price for a three-course-meal. That way, connaisseurs and people who just like to eat well, can try top-notch restaurants for little money. The question they can ask themselves afterwards: Which restaurant has the three “B”, meaning the Best Bonne Bouche? Or, if they choose to do so, they can leave a comment about any participating restaurant they visited, on the Sofia Restaurant Week 2016 website, and they will be able to win attractive prizes, which are yet to be announced.
By the way: In most cases, tips and drinks are not included in those 25 Leva per person. But, two participating restaurants are offering half a bottle of hand-picked wine, per person, as part of the deal. One of them is “Izbata Vinarna”, the other one would be the “Rosé” restaurant.
A week before the event is scheduled, the organizers are already overwhelmed with the interest it draws. Paromita Sanatani of Inside & Out Ltd. told Foreigners & Friends, she and her colleagues had actually expected expats in Sofia to make most table reservations. But it is young Bulgarian professionals, members of the small middle class in this country, who are reserving tables as if there was no tomorrow.
The participating restaurant were, of course, carefully chosen. Only excellent restaurants had the opportunity to participate. Also, they wanted places of different kinds. Paromita Sanatani said, in some cases, restaurant managers had rejected the offer. Once their bosses, meaning the restaurant owners, heard about Sofia Restaurant Week, they were disappointed about the fact that their employees had missed a great opportunity indeed. The organizers also spoke to Happy, that huge Bulgarian restaurant chain with an excellent promotion department, about taking part with their Sasa and Captain Cook restaurants. But, because those were being renovated, it did not happen, this time around.
Mrs. Sanatani will check out some participating restaurants herself. “I will not go to eat at my favourites, but rather places I have not tried yet”, she said. In her case, the latter would be Club Pouchkine, Marmo and Tabiet.
More good news? Restaurant Week is spreading. Next year, Plovdiv Restaurant Week 2017 will be on.
By Imanuel Marcus