Sunday marked the beginning of the first-ever Princeton University Restaurant Week, a joint initiative between the USG Campus and Community Affairs Committee and the Graduate Student Government to allow students discounted prices at upscale restaurants.
The weeklong event, modeled after the annual New York Restaurant Week, gives students the chance to enjoy a three-course meal at 10 different participating restaurants for $25. The restaurants include Blue Point Grill, Elements, Ferry House, La Mezzaluna, Masala Grill, Mediterra, Mehek, Teresa Caffe, Witherspoon Grill and Yankee Doodle Tap Room.
The USG explained that Restaurant Week is an example of its goal to increase interactions with the local community. USG CCA Committee chair Carmina Mancenon ’14 ran for her current position last year on a platform emphasizing greater collaboration between the University community and local businesses. The idea of a "restaurant week" was one of her specific campaign promises.
She said the two main goals of the week were to obtain discounts for students and to help local businesses reach a wider set of customers.
“I’m a student on financial aid, and whenever I walk on Nassau Street, I see all of these ... restaurants that I wish I could eat at, but it’s always reserved for very, very special occasions,” Mancenon said. “This restaurant week levels the playing field for students to be able to enjoy their time at restaurants.”
Chad Maisel GS, the president of the GSG, also ran on a platform that included implementing a restaurant week. He reached out to USG president Bruce Easop ’13, who put Maisel in contact with the USG CCA Committee. At that point, the two groups decided to join forces.
According to Mancenon, students will be getting between 50 and 75 percent off the normal value of the meal. She added that USG members attended town hall meetings to negotiate prices with the restaurants.
Maisel said the two governments chose restaurants that could offer a $25 prix fixe menu with items that would have been more expensive otherwise.
Participating restaurants agreed to the lower price point without financial compensation from the University or the student governments. Mancenon said the event had been cost-effective for the USG because the only expense was advertising, and even in that case the USG relied more heavily on social media and emails rather than printed posters.
“The biggest challenge was finding a time most suitable for students given our break schedule ... and also finding a time when restaurants are not completely busy from holidays, peak season, parents weekend,” Mancenon said. USG representatives attended town hall meetings to coordinate times and prices.
Mancenon added that she expects between 1,500 and 2,000 students — undergraduates and graduates — to take advantage of the deals. No restaurant has set limits on how many students can participate in the event.
Patricia Yeh ’14 said that she plans to take advantage of the discount and eat at Blue Point Grill.
“It’s going to be epic,” she said. “I’m excited to go to restaurants that are usually out of my price range.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/11/11/31769/