Great Plates

Feb 082006
Authors: Michelle Zilis

Participating Restaurants: Austin's American Grill, Beau Jo's Pizza, Bisetti's Ristorante, Conor O'Neill's, CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing, Enzio's Italian Kitchen, Jay's American Bistro, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, Lucky Joe's, Mystic Martini, Nico's Catacombs, Old Chicago, Sanfords Grub & Pub, Spoons Soups and Salads, Stonehouse Grille, Tailgate Tommy's, The Crown Pub, The Melting Pot, The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, The Spicy Pickle, Trailhead Tavern, Zydeco's, Steakout Saloon

Old Town restaurants are joining together to make Fort Collins' residents say "wow."

The Downtown Business Association and its members are putting on the Great Plates of Downtown event, which will offer dinner deals at 25 full-service restaurants in Old Town. Each restaurant will create its own menu for the fixed price of $18.68 in honor of the year Fort Collins was established.

"We realized that to make this thing a success, we need to all have the 'wow factor,"' said Scott Smith, owner of CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing . "We want our deals to be so good, people can't help but say 'Wow, look at what they're offering.'"

Some restaurants will offer family-type deals, such as dinners-for-four at CooperSmith's and Spoons Soups and Salads. Others will offer specials for two, like the Spicy Pickle and Conor O'Neill's. And some, like Austin's American Grill, will offer a four-course meal.

Great Plates of Downtown begins March 1 and runs through March 12. This is the first year of the event, but the association hopes to make it an annual affair.

The association has goals to expand the event to lunch and desserts in the future, but for now all restaurant specials are from 5 p.m. to close.

"We want to start at a basic level and grow into a bigger event," said Amanda Miller, event coordinator.

Great Plates occurs in March to generate more business during a period that typically tends to be a slower time for restaurants.

"We want to reward our frequent diners with great deals and also we hope to attract a lot more people that don't typically dine out that often," Smith said.

Some restaurant owners think working together will help all businesses instead of hurting one. The association hopes to have full restaurants for the entire 12-night period.

Mitch Bohls, manager of Austin's American Grill, said he is not worried about competition between restaurants during those days. He thinks it will do the opposite and help business.

"With so many people coming downtown, if one restaurant has a 45-minute wait, people tend to walk down to the next one," Bohls said. "So we feel like we'll eventually get them."

Kimberly Alley, owner of the Spicy Pickle, , agrees the event will help her business by promoting the dinner cuisine that is often overshadowed by her lunch menu.

"We don't have much of a dinner crowd, so I'm hoping this will expose a lot more people to our menu," Alley said.

With the variety of restaurants participating, Miller believes local restaurants are offering something for everyone, including college students.

"You can have so many experiences in these 12 days," Miller said. "A night out with your buddies at Beau Jo's Pizza and then a romantic dinner with your girlfriend at the Melting Pot for only $18.68."

Matt Sumner, a junior geology major, said he would like to take part in the event.

"It sounds like a cool event to be a part of," Sumner said. "I'd probably go to CopperSmith's Pubside or the Melting Pot, because I've never tried it but heard it's really good."

Nico's Catacomb is also a participating restaurant offering specials that will save customers roughly 25 percent, said owner Nico Zentveld.

Event organizers hope to draw more customers for the 12 days as well as show gratitude to its loyal customer base and the city of Fort Collins.

"We want people to come downtown and experience restaurants that could be their favorite or new ones they've never tried," Miller said. "It's just a great time to try new restaurants and new experiences."

Michelle Zilis can be reached at


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