Organizers of Harford County's fourth annual Restaurant Week say restaurateurs and patrons alike hailed the week as a big success, and one lucky Bel Air couple would no doubt agree with them.
Sean and Michelle Wingate won more than $1,000 worth of local dining by participating in the contest held each year in conjunction with Restaurant Week.
"We never thought we would win," Sean Wingate said in a county government news release. He is a police officer with a state agency, and his wife works for the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore.
According to the county, more than 2,000 contest cards were entered by patrons to win the Restaurant Week grand prize of $1,000 worth of dining gift cards donated by participating restaurants. This year there was also the option to enter the contest on the "Harford County, Love it!" Facebook page.
The winning entry was drawn at random by county Economic Development Director Jim Richardson. He and county Tourism Manager Wini Roche presented the prize at the Mountain Branch Grille & Pub in Joppa, which was also recognized for being the busiest restaurant during the promotion.
"We love Restaurant Week – it's great for business!" Carol McCarthy, general manager of Mountain Branch, said. "The Restaurant Week promotion brought in a lot of new faces to our restaurant and many returned from last year. Our employees get very involved in the promotion. We hope to welcome everyone back throughout the year."
Mountain Branch has won the busiest restaurant contest the past three years. McCarthy said they ran a contest this year for their servers and whomever sold the most Restaurant Week dinners was given a cash prize. Rounding out the top five busiest restaurants during the week were Silver Spring Mining Company of Bel Air, Liberatore's of Bel Air, MacGregor's of Havre de Grace and Main Street Tower of Bel Air.
During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants in Harford County offered special prix fixe menus for $20.13, plus beverage, taxes and gratuity. Like last year, the county news release stated, participating establishments reported a 10 to 15 percent increase in business during the promotion.
"We are very pleased with how well the promotion went this year," said Roche, who coordinated the event. "Thanks to all who supported our local businesses."
For more information on dining out in Harford County or other ways to enjoy the summer, visit the Office of Tourism's website, http://www.harfordmd.com.