The city’s first Restaurant Week has been hailed a success after ploughing an estimated £250,000 into the local economy.
Hundreds of diners tucked into the offers available during Eat Drink Sunderland Restaurant Week, which took place between September 24 and October 2.
More than 50 restaurants, cafes and bars across the whole city took part in the event, organised by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) - and backed by the wider city business community - with many showing a huge surge in footfall across the week.
It proved so successful there are plans in the pipeline to make it a bi-annual event, with the next week taking place in early 2017.
Kam Chera, owner of the Funky Indian Tapas restaurant at Borough Road, said the event had increased midweek business by 40 per cent.
“We were busy every night and I would say about 70 per cent of the people were new customers,” he said.
“And the great thing was that they weren’t just local people, we had visitors from Newcastle, Middlesbrough and even as far north as Alnwick who took advantage of the offers.”
His words were echoed by Ian Wong, who owns the city’s Asiana restaurant.
“We saw a massive increase in footfall, many of whom hadn’t know the restaurant was here or who hadn’t sampled our food before,” he said.
“And it was also great to see so many people had come from further afield, from across Teesside, Northumberland and from Sedgefield.”
Hundreds of special offer vouchers were downloaded from the BID’s website but as one offer was valid for a group of people, organisers believe the number of covers could be far higher than this figure, with many walk-in customers taking advantage of the special offers running during the week.
Angelo’s Restaurant in Sunniside reported record numbers, with many visitors upgrading to the a la carte menu rather than taking advantage of the special offers.
The initiative also ran across venues outside of the city centre including Liberty Brown and Saucy Burger in Hylton Riverside and Hilton Garden Inn’s Karbon Grill, which reported more than 900 additional covers across the week between them.
“We have had a fantastic response to the first ever Restaurant Week and we are delighted to have had so many local people and visitors coming to the city,” said Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland BID.
“We had high hopes for Restaurant Week, but the results have been absolutely phenomenal and we are delighted with the feedback we have had from businesses both in the city centre and further afield.”
Gary Hutchinson, commercial director at Sunderland AFC and chair of the Sunderland Business Partnership – one of the key supporters of the initiative – said: “We have some fantastic restaurants in Sunderland, and this was a great platform to showcase their stunning cuisine.
“The results we have seen across the city have been amazing, and we look forward to supporting the next Restaurant Week, which we are sure will be an even bigger success than the first.”