Restaurant Week’s Appeal Narrows

Restaurant WeekMeghan Keneally The logo for Restaurant Week.

The economics behind Restaurant Week means that a surprisingly small group of East Village restaurants are participating in the program.

The city-wide promotion, which runs for two weeks starting Monday, offers a prix fixe menu for $24.07 at lunch and $35 for dinner, the idea being that diners have the chance to get fancy meals at a lower cost. Because the majority of the East Village’s restaurants are less expensive already, many don’t see the need to participate.

“Our price point is extremely low — everything here is under $12 — so we don’t really fit the restaurant week model,” said Craig Koenig, one of the partners at Whitman’s restaurant on East 9th Street who is not involved in the promotion.

Yerba Buena, a Latin restaurant on Avenue A, is one of the five restaurants in the East Village that is offering Restaurant Week menus.

Participation in the East Village is low “because the restaurants are very small and a lot of people like to hit the really big places, like Gramercy Tavern and Nobu,” said Angel Deleon, the manager of Yerba Buena. “Those places may not give you the same value because the portions are small.”

Associations with larger restaurant corporations often dictate participation, as seen in the case of DBGB Kitchen and Bar. The restaurant on the Bowery is one of five in the city owned by famed chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant chain, and all Mr. Boulud’s restaurants participate in the promotion.

Unlike some of Mr. Boulud’s pricier establishments, prices at DBGB tend to be in the $11-$23 range, meaning that a Restaurant Week menu might bring in a higher bill than normal for the restaurant.

That being said, not all corporate allies see the importance.

DBGB Kitchen and BarMeghan Keneally DBGB is one of the participating restaurants.

Hearth is an American restaurant in the East Village that was started eight years ago by a chef and manager duo that previously worked at Gramercy Tavern and Craft, two restaurants that continue to participate in Restaurant Week. Hearth, however, has resisted.

“We felt that we were offering incredible value on a daily basis and therefore felt that, with the value already a given in what we are doing, we cant afford to do it,” said Paul Grieco, the restaurant’s wine director.

While it may not show in the East Village, Restaurant Week, now in its 20th year, includes 276 restaurants.

“It has to make economic sense,” said Tiffany Townsend, spokeswoman for NYC & Company which runs Restaurant Week for the city. “The core of the program is really bringing some of the city’s best fine dining at an affordable price.”

Yerba Buena has found it to make economic sense, and has participated all three years since it opened.

“All of our tables are fully booked for the first three or four days” of the promotion, Mr. Deleon said. “Especially now with tough economic times, everybody’s looking for a deal.”