Aline Reitzer, co-owner of Acacia Mid-town, started Richmond Restaurant Week in 2001 after she was swamped with donation requests. She patterned the event after restaurant weeks in other cities. In its first year, Richmond Restaurant Week included nine restaurants. This year, 39 restaurants will participate. (Full disclosure: Richmond magazine is a sponsor.)
“It is beyond my wildest dreams that this event has had such a phenomenally positive effect on the community at large,” Reitzer says. “Richmond Restaurant Week creates a buzz among food lovers and big-hearted Richmonders, and the effect is astonishing.”
What sets Richmond Restaurant Week apart from similar events is its charitable element: All restaurants donate a portion of the proceeds from each meal to FeedMore to help feed the hungry in greater Richmond. Last year, the event raised almost $50,000. This year, $2.12 from each meal will be donated. Kim Bridges, communications director at FeedMore, the umbrella organization for the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels, says she’s excited about this year’s chance to feed even more people as a result of the event’s expansion. “It’s an amazing opportunity to raise both awareness about the issue of local hunger and critical funds to help feed our neighbors in need,” she says.
While most restaurants are returning participants in Richmond Restaurant Week, 10 are joining for the first time. One of the new restaurants is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ fine-dining restaurant, Amuse.
“We are very proud to take part in this great charity event for our very first time,” says Amuse manager Michael Smith. “Chef Greg Haley has participated in this event in the past and is happy to continue feeding delicious food to the citizens of Richmond in an effort to help supply the Richmond Food Bank.”
While Amuse’s regular hours are Thursday and Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m., the restaurant will open on Wednesday evening during restaurant week to give customers an extra opportunity to dine. The restaurant week menu for Amuse is posted on its website, vmfa.museum/amuse.