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Wings, burgers and BBQ part of new Dayton restaurant theme weeks

The annual Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest at Fraze Pavilion celebrates some of the best in chicken wings in the Miami Valley. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
The annual Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest at Fraze Pavilion celebrates some of the best in chicken wings in the Miami Valley. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED

When it comes to food events, Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA), knows what she’s talking about.

Each year, Zahora takes point on planning and helming more than 20 major events featuring local restaurants that draw tens of thousands of people.

She estimates that the Taco Fiesta, Bacon Fest and Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest at the Fraze alone bring in between 35,000-45,000 people each year.

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As local restaurants look to make updates and reinvent some parts of their business in our new normal, Zahora found herself in a similar predicament.

“When I received the news that Fraze Pavilion was shutting down all of their events this summer, I started thinking, ‘what could I do to make these events still go on for people?’ The reason we exist and do these events is to promote our local restaurants,” Zahora said.

Scens from the Taco Fiesta last June at Fraze Pavilion. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Scens from the Taco Fiesta last June at Fraze Pavilion. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

As she thought about it amidst cancellations of outdoor events at The Greene, Austin Landing, Wright State and the Fraze, she thought about promotions to bring diners to the restaurants.

Beginning in June the MVRA will be partnering with local restaurants to put on monthly themed dining promotions.

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• June 21-28 will be Cheeseburger in Paradise Week featuring different specialty burgers.

• July 11-18 will be Wing Week, which will try to channel the fun of the popular Kickin' Chicken Wing Fest.

• Aug. 15-22 will be Bacon Week, featuring the one thing that makes everything taste better — bacon.

• Sept. 20-27 will be BBQ Week, with restaurants firing up the grill and sizzling.

• Oct. 11-18 will be Octoberfest Week featuring different German-inspired dishes and specials on German beers.

Zahora says she is looking for another week that she will announce this summer for a Crazy Crab Week.

“I’m trying to do something each month to keep events and promotions going for the restaurants. It’s important to keep things fun and keep the restaurants promoted because we are not having events right now,” Zahora said. “After running the idea by some of the local restaurants, they were all in.”

Restaurants are still in the process of signing up. So far Amber Rose, The Dock, Nick’s, Romer’s, Mr. Boro’s, Bunkers, Rip Rap Roadhouse and Florentine Restaurant are signed up to participate during the Cheeseburger in Paradise Week. Zahora expects many more to take part, with restaurants still being added to the list.

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The annual Bacon Fest has been a popular summer event at Fraze Pavilion full of creative bacon-inspired dishes. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTED
The annual Bacon Fest has been a popular summer event at Fraze Pavilion full of creative bacon-inspired dishes. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTED

“Our independent restaurants are entrepreneurs by trade, and they have learned to change and adapt to the hand that they were dealt, and they are doing a great job with it. They have come up with grill packs, special meals for four, new menu items and are reworking their dining rooms getting dividers in between their booths and changing their dining rooms to get tables six feet apart,” Zahora said. “We have so many great restaurants in Dayton — we are blessed with what we have here. They are tough, and I have no doubt they will come out stronger when this is over. It’s a disappointing year for me and for so many of us, but I’m trying to put a positive spin on things and find ways to still highlight our incredible local restaurants.”

In addition to the monthly themed restaurant promotions, Zahora says that Summer Restaurant Week will take place July 19-26 without the traditional Sneak Peek event that she usually has the Wednesday before the weekend it launches.

For information on participating restaurants and additional information, visit www.dineoutdayton.com or call (937) 461-MVRA.

When you search for “event” on Google, cancel and cancellation are two of the commonly suggested words to go along with it. It’s refreshing to see that new types of events are popping up that work within the confines of our new normal.

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