Several restaurants participating in the 10-day "Queen's Feast" celebration, which started Friday, expect a larger turnout for the event compared to previous years.
In the weakened economy, the three-year-old event helps bring in diners during a typically slow month. At last summer's event, for example, 63,000 dinners were served as part of restaurant week, said Bruce Hensley, who started the event. Each participating restaurant offers a three-course dinner menu for $30 per person.
Participation is up this week, with 88 restaurants compared with 70 last year, Hensley said. He may cap future participation, which is open only to upscale restaurants.
M5 Modern Mediterranean in SouthPark has received 140 reservations and expects 200. That would be up from the 170 restaurant-week customers it hosted last year, said Executive Chef Scott Wallen. The menu will include duck sausage and sweet onion flatbread, Maine lobster ravioli, and blackberry and port semifreddo for dessert.
This is the second year Maddi's Southern Bistro in Birkdale Village has taken part, and reservations are also up from last year. The bistro is planning for 150 this week, said Maddi's general manager Jon Dalton.
"Last year was really good for us, but we are expecting more because people are getting to know us," Dalton said.
Maddi's offers four courses rather than the normal three. Menu items include fried green tomatoes, almond encrusted goat cheese, sage and brie rolled flank steak, and peach crumb pie.
The Prickly Pear in Mooresville, a modern Mexican restaurant, is also expecting a large crowd.
This is the restaurant's first time participating, and they expected 50 guests Friday, with a busy week ahead, said owner Eddie Chavez.
"July is a very slow month for us, so that's why we wanted to get involved," Chavez said. Guests can dine on calamari, fresh snapper, pork chops and sweet butter cake.
Seats are available in participating Charlotte-area restaurants through July 25. The semiannual event - a Queens Feast also occurs in January - allows people to experience a variety of cuisines and venues in Charlotte.
Participants and menus can be viewed at www. charlotterestaurantweek.com .
When arriving at the restaurant, diners should tell the host or hostess they are there for the fixed-price restaurant week menu. Reservations are recommended; use the restaurant week website or call the participating restaurant.