Colorado Restaurant Association asks diners to “Fork the Recession”


The Denver Business Journal reports The Colorado Restaurant Association has launched a $170,000 campaign last week to try to get people to eat out during these tough economic times.

The “Fork the Recession” campaign, heralded by Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper at a news conference at Lala’s Wine Bar and Pizzeria, will consist of TV, radio, print and web ads encouraging people to visit a restaurant. Funded by donations from local news sources and billboard companies, the campaign is believed to be the first of its kind to promote Colorado eateries.

The campaign, which features black-and-yellow posters displaying a line of upraised fork-holding hands, will run through the end of May. Part of the goal is to convince consumers that budget shortfalls and economic woes will only get worse if they don’t spend money in restaurants, which contribute $570 million a year in state and local taxes.

But restaurant association President Pete Meersman acknowledged that all of the goading in the world won’t have much of an effect if restaurants don’t take advantage of the publicity and offer deals on food items. Many already have begun discounting entrees for the promotion, he said.

“If some restaurants are offering specials and you’re a restaurant that’s not offering specials and you’re losing business to the restaurant that is offering specials, that’s something to think about,” Meersman told the paper. “This is good for the consumer.”

Even while kicking off the effort to get more people coming out, CRA leaders acknowledged that the state restaurant industry is not being hit especially hard by the recession.

Because disposable income in Colorado is expected to rise by 1.4% this year, restaurant sales are anticipated to rise by $300 million, or 3.8 percent, the third highest jump in the U.S., said CRA board chairman Tom Lund, vice president for the Old Chicago and Rock Bottom restaurants.