July 17, 2018 | ° F

Just for two: Restaurants offer discounts for couples

The New Brunswick Rocks campaign is encouraging patrons of the city's restaurants, bars and the Heldrich Hotel and Spa to grab a date each week for "Friday Night Date Night," taking place at all of the campaign's participating establishments.

"Date Night" works a little differently at each participating location, with restaurants and other establishments offering various promotions, Vice President of New Brunswick Rocks Joe Remmett said.

"The greatest thing about this group [is that] there's so much diversity in it. If you want soul food, we have it, if you want Creole food, we have it," Remmett said. "Anything you want, you can get in our group and that's what makes it so nice."

The restaurants offer everything from free appetizers to prix fixe menus, free desserts, discounts on entrees and more, he said. Some establishments have been seeing as many as 30 couples or more at each event.

"You can go to every restaurant each night and get a totally different taste of food," Remmett said.

Manager of Panico's Italian Restaurant Jose Solano said the event began about a month and a half ago, and they are hoping it will help move business.

"We haven't done major business with this event but we are happy to do it," Solano said.

He said Panico's, located at 94 Church St., is also offering "late night" on the weekends, with a DJ playing after dinner hours.

Jim Mullen, general manager of the Frog and the Peach restaurant at 29 Dennis St., said "Date Night" has helped their Friday night business.

Couples can order their Peach Tasting menu, which is matched with wines, he said. This high-end meal, which usually runs $105 per person, can be purchased for two on Friday nights for $150, Mullen said. Right now, they are featuring their Summer Peach menu and will be switching to their fall tasting menu in about a week.

Matthew Terranova, owner of Steakhouse 85 at 85 Church St., said they offer a prix fixe menu for $99 for two. Couples can pick their choice of a bottle of red or white wine, appetizer, entrée, side dish and dessert.

Entrees include items like filet mignon, veal porterhouse, herb-crusted wild salmon and roasted French chicken breast, he said.

Terranova said they started the promotion in June and it has been very successful.

"We're packed every night, but Friday night, people wait to get near here," he said.

Terranova said they also have a live jazz band every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

New Brunswick Rocks Founder Vinnie Brand said the campaign started with Happy Hour Thursdays at all their locations throughout the city and then expanded into "Date Night."

"We have people come every week from Newark, Princeton, Somerset, from a very wide radius to come to Happy Hour and Date Night," he said.

Brand said in April he got the word out to business owners in the city, making phone calls and encouraging them to meet to bring the group together. He originally asked them to sign up for a three-month long commitment to the program beginning in April.

He said the group is growing stronger, with more restaurants and sponsors joining.

"In an economy where Atlantic City is down 11 percent, restaurant business across the board can be down to at least 20 percent, this raises awareness about New Brunswick," Brand said.

Heather Brookhart

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