Yanna Kounopis, the owner of Billy’s Downtown Diner, welled up with tears listening to a young patron describe his college application essay, which focused on the restaurant’s ability to bring the community together through food.
The young man, who ended up attending Villanova, told Kounopis his story when he and his family walked into the diner for breakfast.
Bethlehem’s Restaurant Week embodies the sentiment of uniting through food.
“We love our community,” Kounoupis said.
A week-long event where Bethlehem restaurants offer fixed menus with special pricing, this year’s Restaurant Week was held Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. Eighteen restaurants participated, including Billy’s, The Flying Egg and more.
Alexander Lozano, a manager at The Flying Egg, and Kounoupis said their respective restaurants saw an increase of customers both old and new come in throughout the week.
Lozano said the fixed menu and cheaper prices entice customers to come in during Restaurant Week.
“People actually reserve for weeks to come to try out our regular menus,” Lozano said.
Kounoupis said it gives customers an opportunity to try something different they may not usually have on the regular menu through the prefix option.
The Flying Egg and Billy’s both had breakfast and lunch menus available. The Flying Egg offered soups of the day and a variety of toasts. Lozano said the house favorite was a stuffed French toast with caramelized bananas, strawberries and chocolate. Billy’s had three different menu items, including an omelette, and sandwiches, such as a Cubano with salad or soup.
Tracie Dinh, ‘22, heard about Restaurant Week from her cousin who lives in the area. During the week, she ate at the North Side restaurants Apollo Grill and Tapas on Main.
At Apollo Grill, Dinh said she ate a tomato bisque soup, a crispy chicken sandwich and a mint chocolate whoopie pie.
“Everything they offered was similar to what I would have expected on their regular menu,” Dinh said.
A “Post Your Plate” competition was held during Restaurant Week, encouraging patrons to post pictures of their meals on social media using the hashtag “#PostyourPlate.”
Dinh said she entered the contest by posting a photo of her sandwich from Apollo Grill with the hope of winning restaurant gift cards.
Dinh said these types of deals are more appealing to Lehigh students, but said it can be difficult for students on the South Side to make time to enjoy Restaurant Week on the North Side.
Kounoupis said Restaurant Week also works as a business approach because fewer people may want to go out in the wintertime.
“It brings everyone together,” Lozano said. “Especially foodies.”
There are multiple Restaurant Weeks throughout the year in the Lehigh Valley. One was held in Easton the week before Bethlehem’s Restaurant Week.