Even with this year’s strain on the seafood industry, one local restaurant has managed to catch a big one. Full-service chain Bonefish Grill took four top prizes in this year’s Zagat Fast-Food Survey: Top Food, Top Healthy Options, Top Service and Best Seafood.
Good catch: Our local Bonefish Grill, where bartender Leo Mamadou stirs things up, is hooking all kinds of awards, including a top Zagat rating in the categories of Service and Healthy Options.
It seems that, in part, the restaurant’s success is driven by our own local spot on Rte. 29N. Last year, Scott Hutson, who is one of the three managing partners, earned the distinction of “Partner of the Year,” an annual title doled out from the home office in Tampa that recognizes those restaurants that are performing above and beyond the call. Says a modest Hutson, “We’re holding our own.” But the prizes don’t stop there. Bonefish won the runner-up spot for seafood in C-VILLE’s 2010 Best Of contest.
So, what does a winning restaurant do once it reaches the top? Keep climbing. Always striving to turn hungry tummies onto its famous Bang Bang Shrimp, the company spends its marketing dollars on “excursions:” “You bring in a group of eight to 10 people and then use them as ambassadors,” Hutson says. If the customer’s experience was positive, chances are they’ll rave about the restaurant to friends—and they’ll come back for more. Hutson says a majority of the restaurant’s customer base is regulars. Talk about reeling ’em in.
Get ready for some fanfair, foodies. As we reported a few weeks ago, the Midtown Business Association will host a street fair on Saturday, September 11, which will shut down West Main between Fourth and Seventh streets. What we couldn’t report then, though, was that the event will include live music, face-painting, a vintage bike show and a penny-farthing. And, says event spokesperson Sarah Heid, a BBQ cook-off between a bunch of the corridor’s restaurants like Zinc, Blue Moon Diner, West Main and Maya.
Back in April, Restaurantarama reported that The Happy Cook would host its first Chefs Week. Steve Belcher, husband of Happy Cook owner Monique Moshier, says the first one was such a success they’re doing it again September 27-October 1. In fact, the Barracks Road store will host Chefs Week twice a year from now on.
Register early for a chance to cook alongside chefs Brian Wilkinson (of l’étoile), Christian Kelly (Maya), Luther Fedora (Horse & Hound Gastropub), Melissa Close Hart (Palladio) and Marisa Catalano (Charlottesville Cooking School). Just $10 will get you one of the 20 available seats (though Belcher says there’s standing room available). All proceeds will be donated to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Call the store at 977-2665 for more information.