Dine Around Seattle Celebrates 16 Years
Seattle’s original three-course dining tradition delivers a 16-year legacy of community support.
Dine Around Seattle sprung up 16 years ago when a group of local restaurateurs banded together with a vision to launch a community dining event that would inspire local foodies to explore the regional flavors of the Northwest served by some of the city’s most celebrated chefs from Seattle’s best restaurants.
What the early founders did not know then was they were on to something big. Their collaboration created a deep-rooted bond with the restaurant and dining community and established what has become the longest running three-course prix fixe event in the Puget Sound.
The effort was spearheaded by Richard Malia, owner of Ponti’s Seafood Grill, after one of his managers brought the concept home to Seattle from a visit to New York City in 2000. New York City had been hosting a twice-yearly “Restaurant Week” consisting of three-course meals since 1992. The concept was appealing because of its win-win nature.
Founding members of “25 for $25” – Lissa Gruman, Richard Malia, Mo Shaw
Malia saw the value in the idea for Seattle restaurateurs and when he introduced it to Karl Bruno, then Food & Beverage Director at the W Seattle; Mo Shaw, then General Manager at Ray’s Boathouse; and Christine Keff, former chef/owner of Flying Fish, it was met with optimism. He then presented it to Frank Blethen and Mike Lemke at The Seattle Times and to Jamie Peha, then at the Washington Wine Commission. Allan Aquila, formerly of Yarrow Bay Grill and Beach Café at the Point, joined with the group, and W Seattle’s Bruno donated their publicist Lissa Gruman’s time to the project.
The group selected March and November for the twice-yearly dining event as these were notably slow months for the restaurants. They scrambled to get enough restaurants to agree to it and eventually assembled 25 restaurants launching as “25 for $25” in March 2001. It was off to a successful start. Foodies loved it because they could easily sample new cuisines with groups of friends, and the restaurants loved the marketing power of the collective event. It was mutually beneficial, which created something the Seattle community has come to cherish.
“25 for $25” Event Chefs
The economic success was proven when American Express conducted a survey in the first three to four years of the event which showed increased sales in the two months of the promotion, March and November, over previous years for the restaurants involved.
In 2007, the group added five more restaurants, increased the price of the three-course meal to $30, and changed the moniker from “25 for $25” to “Dine Around Seattle”.
Since 2012, Dine Around Seattle has been a program of Seattle Good Business Network, a non-profit group that encourages people to buy, produce, and invest locally. With initial support from Emily Taibl – long-time Dine Around program coordinator – and the tireless enthusiasm and creativity of Marty Griswold, Seattle Good Business Network has continued to build upon the local ideals and collective spirit of its origins and has expanded the economic and community reach of the event.
Emily Taibl & Marty Griswold
Today, in presenting Dine Around Seattle, Seattle Good Business Network is helping to build real prosperity for local, independent restaurants, farms, and food artisans. The event focuses on restaurants that make a strong effort to source their ingredients locally, which further adds to the collective boost for Seattle’s local economy by supporting regional farms, ranches, distilleries, and independent food artisans.
Dine Around Seattle is a time to discover Seattle’s neighborhood restaurants and top chefs and to stay connected with and help the community.
Operating under Seattle Good Business Network’s non-profit status, Dine Around Seattle also provides charitable support to local food-related, non-profit groups.