Kansas City Restaurant Week Dishes Up Philanthropy

Snag delicious deals and donate to charity—all at the same time.

Story by Riley Mortensen

We all eat. It’s a fact plain and simple, but where and what we choose to eat—well, that’s another story. In a time when chain restaurants and grocery stores tend to dominate cities nationwide, sucking up local dollars, Kansas City Restaurant Week (KCRW) urges you to support our city’s thriving independent restaurant scene. It’s a chance to feast on local meals that are a steal of a deal and put your money right back into KC in more ways than one.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Shannon Hickey, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association. “It helps feed the local economy by injecting revenue into our restaurants, and also you’re giving back to our community, which is so important.”

The seventh annual KC Restaurant Week, this year slated for Jan. 15-24, will offer guests the opportunity to try $15 multi-course lunch menus and $33 dinner menus at more than 175 local restaurants.

Photo by Landon Vonderschmidt

At the same time patrons dine on their delicious specials, they’re also doing good for several local charities that provide food-centric services: BoysGrow, Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, Cultivate Kansas City, the Kansas City Regional Destination Development Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation.

With 10 percent of restaurant sales during KCRW going back to the charities, Hickey notes the last six years the event has raised just under $1 million. This year the goal is to exceed $300,000.

According to Hickey, participating in the popular January dining-out event is a game-changer not only for the restaurants, but also the designated charities.

“Last year during restaurant week, Manny’s Mexican Restaurant in the Crossroads, which has been open for over 30 years, recorded their busiest Saturday night ever,” Hickey says.

Nicola Heskett, executive director of the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), points out the charities that benefit from KCRW will grow not only from the proceeds, but also from the relationships they’ve created with one another.

CCVI’s holiday luncheon featured produce from Cultivate Kansas City as well as a brand-new salad dressing created by the inner-city teens who participate in BoysGrow. CCVI utilizes funds generated during KCRW to help provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the 350 infants, toddlers and older children they work with during the year.

Hickey hopes people turn out in record numbers this year to celebrate Kansas City’s acclaimed cuisine. “Eat local and support local,” she says.