Now in its eighth year, Restaurant Week Toledo offers culinary connoisseurs and casual diners the chance to eat new and unique dishes from 40 local eateries and cafés to support the free youth leaderships programs of Toledo.
The weeklong event recently ran from Feb. 26-March 4 and featured specialty menus at each restaurant in the Toledo area.
The returning and first-time partners for the week included Balance Pan-Asian Grille, Barr’s Public House, Deet’s BBQ, BREW Coffee Bar, La Scola, SIPcoffee, Sidon Lebanese Grille and Bakery, M Osteria Bar & Lounge, Mancy’s, Manhattan’s Pub ‘n Cheer, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Social Gastropub and Ventura’s.
Each restaurant created unique menus for the week and sent a portion of the revenue from these dishes to Leadership Toledo.
Leadership Toledo hopes to surpass last year’s net profit of around $80,000; however, donations from each restaurant are still coming in and won’t be totaled until the end of March, Executive Director of Leadership Toledo Anna Toney said.
“[We are] hoping to improve upon and make [Restaurant Week Toledo] more exciting [each year],” Toney said. “We want people to go out and explore the great food scene in Toledo and give to a good cause.”
One of the newcomers to Restaurant Week was Sidon Lebanese Grille and Bakery, which opened in 2016 and offered three dishes with multiple options for foodies and loyal customers alike.
Restaurant Week was Sidon’s busiest week, said Nadine Hariri, head of public relations and marketing at Sidon.
“We heard great things from other restaurants and that it brought in new faces and was the busiest week of the year,” Hariri said. “It was absolutely [our] busiest week of the year. We were blown away.”
Unlike some of the other restaurants, Hariri said Sidon is adding a Restaurant Week item to the desert list by popular demand – rice pudding.
“It was our first year participating, and we were shocked,” Hariri said. “But you’re not only helping your own restaurant, you’re also helping other people. You’re helping local kids develop their skills.”
Leadership Toledo first organized this event in 2010 to fund its three free youth programs for high school students.
“Leadership Toledo connects individuals with the community,” Toney said. “We do this to cultivate a community of leaders dedicated to leading with authenticity and purpose.”
High school sophomores can attend Youth Leadership Toledo at monthly sessions. This program mirrors the adult program and covers topics ranging from education to service.
The Toledo Community Foundation partnered with Leadership Toledo to create the Youth Philanthropy Program Encouraging Excellence. Each session teaches high school students the “tenets of philanthropy and giving back to your community,” Toney said.
Finally, Students in Action aims to create “a culture of service within [high] schools” for grades 9-12. Leadership Toledo established this program with the National Jefferson Awards.
The organization does not offer free classes for college students, but Toney expressed interest in working with the University of Toledo to make that a reality.
“We need to grow more programs with college students,” Toney said. “UT is our education sponsor this year, so we have had a number of sessions on campus.”
For now, any college students interested in an adult leadership program can participate in Leadership Toledo, Foundations of a Servant Leader, Authentic Leader Workshop and 20 Under 40.