Newport Beach Restaurant Association Gets Dining Update

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Newport Beach Restaurant Week just started, but it’s already shaping up to be a big success, according to statistics shared during the Newport Beach Restaurant Association BID meeting held this week.

“I’m very excited about Restaurant Week—we have a great lineup of restaurants, we’ve had articles and ads in various publications, and we started a ‘share the dish’ promotion where diners can post their food photos on Instagram and tag #DineNB and be entered to win a prize package from the Island Hotel,” said Polly Peak, director of Dine Newport Beach.

Her powerpoint presentation to the BID board showed high social media metrics and increased web traffic for , the new restaurant page created by Newport Beach & Co.

“The engagement with diners on Instagram and Twitter has been phenomenal,” she noted. “Traffic to the website has spiked in January, and hopefully visitors find it a useful tool to keep up to date on what’s happening with the Newport Beach culinary community.”

“I’m going to do an announcement at the next city council meeting on how successful Restaurant Week has been,” said Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon, who attended the meeting. “We need to make people aware of what you’re doing. This is exciting. Your website is outstanding. I’d like to see more restaurants become members of the Restaurant Association, especially in my district on the Peninsula.”

Jim Walker, chairman of the Newport Beach Restaurant Association BID and co-owner of The Bungalow Restaurant, gave a report on the Membership Advisory Committee, which is looking at how to readjust the Restaurant Association fee structure and how to define the membership.

“We thought it would be a simple matter of going by occupancy, but there is no defined way to get specific occupancy from the city,” noted Walker. “The city has a recommendation: they will send all restaurants a form to fill out that asks what is your occupancy, who are you, etc. So, we’re going to throw that idea back to the committee and work with that, and come back with how you would design that form.”

Walker said there are many moving parts to adjusting the fee structure, but it’s critical to balance how they charge for membership.

“It’s important for credibility that we level the playing field,” he said. “The way it’s structured now, it’s up to the operator to tell us how many employees they have, so there’s no accountability. We have to come up with a better way.”

Walker introduced Steve Bender, president-elect of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club and co-chair of the Newport Host Town for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, to be held this summer in Los Angeles.

Bender told the Restaurant Association board that he hoped to work with them on several projects coming up in association with the Special Olympics.

“The 2015 World Games are bigger than the 1984 Olympics,” said Bender. “Newport Beach hosts 136 delegates from Mexico.”

Bender said he’s planning numerous events, including an international wine competition, a Kansas City barbecue competition, OC beer competition, a band competition, and a three day celebration dubbed Newport Beach Party to be held June 26-28 at the Newport Dunes resort.

“The Kansas City barbecue is the first time ever in Newport Beach, it will bring heads and bed to the city,” said board member Thomas Giulioni. “It’s an international competition, which is where Taste of Newport went awry. They never had a significant anchor beyond regional. This is overarching. It would be worth aligning ourselves [with the Newport Beach Party] and be the food portion. I think this could be a significant annual event.”

“I’m trying to connect the dots,” said Walker, noting that there were a lot of individual events and was not sure where the money went, nor how the Restaurant Association would benefit.

“I’d like to develop a plan that is good for this organization and the restaurants,” replied Bender. “Tell me how it would be most effective to you.”

“I would like to have a subcommittee formed, and come back with a plan by our March 25 meeting,” said Giulioni. “We can connect the dots and bring something to the table that makes sense for the both of us. There are a lot of dots to connect.”


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