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Holyoke Restaurant Week helps bolster local businesses

 Nicole Ortiz standing in front of her restaurant, Crave, on High Street in Holyoke.
Nirvani Williams
/
NEPM
Nicole Ortiz standing in front of her restaurant, Crave, on High Street in Holyoke.

Holyoke is hosting its first restaurant week to drum up more business for local eateries since the pandemic.

Nicole Ortiz owns Crave on High Street and serves up Puerto Rican inspired dishes. She said she faced many obstacles due to COVID-19, from staffing issues to supply chain problems and costs rising from inflation. Despite these challenges, Ortiz's business kept growing. Now, Crave is a participant in Holyoke Restaurant Week.

"I really was, not skeptical, but, I didn't know how much more business it was going to bring. Definitely yesterday alone, our sales were double than usual on a Monday," Ortiz said. "So, we saw a crowd like this last night, which we never see on Monday night. I definitely think that it's bringing people out."

Juan Uribe, a Holyoke native, is co-owner of El Paraiso Colombiano, also on High Street. The restaurant, which serves Colombian cuisine, opened in the midst of the pandemic, in 2021.

The business is a dream come true for Uribe and his family, he said.

"It's great, just finally living up our dream as a family. My dad is the main chef, my sister is a waiter. Me and my brother are the co-owners of the business," he said.

Uribe said he is grateful for the city's support as well as the individual customers who come into the restaurant to dine or get takeout.

"There's days and weeks that it's a little slower than others, but overall, it's been a great turnout," he said.

The week long event includes food demonstrations at participating restaurants. Customers can also obtain a purple "food passport" at any of the participating restaurants, get stamps for purchasing food, and use those stamps as coupons after the week is over. Restaurant week will last until June 12, 2022.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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