Since 2010, EatBing has hosted Restaurant Week in the city of Binghamton. During the twice-a-year event, restaurants create prefixed three-course meals and donate money from the proceeds to a local charity.
EatBing was officially created in 2014 to promote local restaurants and food culture. Prior to 2014, the group was known as Binghamton Restaurant Week. Marie McKenna, president of the EatBing board of directors and co-owner of the Lost Dog Café, wrote in an email that forming EatBing helped structure their group while donating money to charities.
“The idea behind it was to elevate the food and beverage culture in Binghamton and call attention to the burgeoning restaurant scene while raising money for worthwhile charities,” McKenna wrote.
The fall 2018 Restaurant Week started on Oct. 9 and will end on Oct. 18. This year, there are 27 restaurants participating, including Lost Dog Café, Water Street Brewing Company, Social on State and Little Venice. Since the beginning of Restaurant Week in 2010, participating restaurants collectively have seen over $4.3 million in sales and donated over $125,000 to their charity partners. Each Restaurant Week, these restaurants sell between 19,000 and 20,000 meals, according to EatBing.
This fall, participating restaurants will be donating around 50 cents per meal to the Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network in Binghamton. An estimated $4,500 will be donated to the organization, which serves Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins counties. Additionally, donations will be going to a beautification project in Binghamton, which has yet to be announced.
Each Restaurant Week, EatBing receives requests from local charities, which are reviewed and voted on by the committee. In the past, proceeds from Restaurant Week have gone to charities such as the Boys and Girls Club of Binghamton, Habitat for Humanity and the Animal Care Council.
Restaurant Week began with only seven restaurants participating. McKenna wrote that the growth of the event is correlated with increased attention to local food and the opening of more restaurants in the area.
“Over time it has continued to grow,” she wrote. “We now have two breweries downtown, Water Street Brewing and Galaxy, and many more new restaurants and coffee shops with all types of cuisine.”
Kerri Kunkel, a junior majoring in business administration, said she is excited for Restaurant Week every year.
“I would say that recently, Restaurant Week has expanded, having more restaurants participating,” Kunkel said. “I always look forward to when the new menus come out, seeing which items are continuously included as an option and which items are new.”
McKenna wrote that she is expecting a large crowd this week and noted Binghamton’s location has helped feed the success of Restaurant Week and other hospitality-related events.
“Binghamton is growing as a hospitality and tourism center because it has so much potential,” she wrote. “The real estate is still somewhat affordable and we are a hub to the Finger Lakes, Canada and downstate destinations. We also have access to amazing farms in the regions surrounding Broome County.”
Kyle Briggs, a sophomore majoring in history, said he appreciates that Restaurant Week helps local charities and encourages people to try new things.
“I like that Restaurant Week gives you the chance to try different items which you might not have had before,” Briggs said. “Also the fact that it gives back to the community is good.”
Spring 2019 Restaurant Week will run from March 26 to April 4.