Over 20 restaurants participated in the Winter Restaurant Week on the South Side of Bethlehem. The event was held from Jan. 21 until Jan. 27. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

South Side Restaurant Week highlights cultural variety

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Twenty-three restaurants participated in South Side Restaurant Week, a week of promotional offers and publicity opportunities for restaurants in South Bethlehem, from Jan. 21 through Jan. 27.

Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub on East Fourth Street, which recently gained national recognition for its release of the “Tide Pod Shot,” offered a $15 three-course lunch and a $25 three-course dinner.

Charles Patrick, who co-owns Molly’s with Carolyn Scott, said the week was a success and a great opportunity to reel in new customers.

“Anything that we can do to help draw people down to the South Side and check out all the great things going on down here, we’re all for participating in that,” Patrick said.

Patrick said Molly’s has participated in both the summer and winter restaurant weeks since it was founded almost nine years ago. He said the advertising done by the SouthSide Arts District on social media and throughout Bethlehem helped bring people into the pub.

Patrick said Lehigh’s winter break is slow for many South Side restaurants, so the Arts District runs the week-long event at the start of the spring semester as fun way to bring customers back to the businesses. 

“There are so many different restaurants down here,” Patrick said. “‘You can get whatever you want,’ is basically how we targeted it to customers.”

In the past, Bethlehem Restaurant Week included North Side restaurants as well, but this winter the Arts District decided to highlight the cultural immersion experienced by dining specifically in South Bethlehem restaurants.

The participating restaurants created special menus with fixed deals and prices, encouraging locals to dine affordably in places they may not have tried previously.

Missy Hartney, the Arts District Main Street manager, periodically checked in on restaurant owners and patrons to make sure the week ran smoothly. She said owners reported better turnouts than in prior years. 

“People could download the menus and really get a look at what everyone was offering before they made a reservation,” Hartney said. “We got really great feedback.”

Hartney said she wanted to split up the North Side and South Side restaurant weeks this year to make it smaller and more focused on the ethnic diversity that the South Side offers in its dining options.

La Lupita, a Mexican restaurant on West Fourth Street, also participated in the restaurant week.

“We’ve been doing it every year,” said Jose Nunez, the owner and chef at La Lupita. “I prefer to keep it that way.”

Nunez said he saw new customers throughout the week. He said he enjoyed being involved because it allowed more people to try his restaurant’s traditional Mexican food.

“In one week, you can eat in Italy, you can eat in Malaysia or you can eat in Thailand,” Hartney said. “There are so many different cuisines here that you can really have a culinary experience across the world in a couple of days.”

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