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7 days of dining out on menu during Sonoma County Restaurant Week

  • Alicia Hedenfield, left, Lisa Evich and Denise Coleman share a laugh and some wine before having dinner at Bistro 29 on Wednesday during Restaurant Week in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

Texans Bob and Beverly Walker said they'd never been to Bistro 29 on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa before and they'd be back.

"Definitely," said Beverly Walker.

"Delicious," said her husband.

That sort of reaction is why Bistro 29 owner-chef Brian Anderson signed up for the fourth year in a row for Sonoma County's Restaurant Week, which started Monday and goes through Sunday.

"It's super; this whole week we're almost sold out already," Anderson said.

It's also exactly the response that the organizers of Restaurant Week want.

"It's a way to stimulate people to go out and have dinner and also to bring in visitors from out of the area," said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, which launched the event in 2010.

Stone might have hugged the Walkers, who had already eaten at the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma and the Glen Ellen Inn to take advantage of the event -- and who said they may well return to the county just to enjoy it again.

"Honestly," said Beverly Walker. "It was a great value and we thoroughly enjoyed it."

Originally intended to lift an industry battered by the recession, the promotion has become a staple for restaurateurs slogging through what are typically slow winter months preceding tax day.

"It's a boost for the restaurant industry, especially at this time of the year," said Tami Sullberg, general manager of Charlie's at the Windsor Golf Club.

Restaurants from Occidental to Cloverdale and Petaluma are taking part this year, offering menus priced at $19, $29 or $39.

Michael Hirschberg, who consults with 25 Sonoma County restaurants, said it's become a week his clients count on.

"I'd say it's a 25 percent bump or something like that," he said. "We know the receipts are going to go up a whole lot and everybody's going to be able to pay their bills."

The overall financial impact of the event on the county is notable, too -- and growing, Stone said.

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