Diversity Dining’s Diverse Dinners and Diners

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For several years, the Downtown Alliance has sponsored Dine O’Round, 16 days of dining in spring and fall during which a number of Salt Lake City restaurants offer lunch and dinner specials for $15 and $25, respectively. The event has been among the alliances’ most popular because it is a great way for these restaurants to promote themselves and for diners to experience old favorites as well as new offerings.

There’s only one problem: The Downtown Alliance’s borders don’t encompass all of Salt Lake City. And so, several fine restaurants are unable to participate in Dine O’Round.

It’s a problem that the owners of Meditrina solved last year by launching their own biannual dining event for eateries neighborhoods such as West Temple where their small plate and restaurant and wine bar is located.
“We came up with Diversity Dining not to combat Dine O’Round, but [because] we wanted to focus on revitalizing neighborhoods, because that’s the focus of our restaurant,” said co-owner Amy Britt, who runs the restaurant with her partner, chef Jennifer Gilroy.

“And what better time to start drawing attention from guests who are more into chain or established restaurants and pull them into what we’re doing, which is fresh, local and independent?” she continued. “We thought, what better way to create a nice synergy and camaraderie and build our businesses at the same time?”

When Diversity Dining kicked off in fall of last year, there were only four other restaurants on board:  The Wild Grape, Pago, Sage’s Café and Café Niche.

“October was a little bit rushed,” explained Gillroy. “It was last minute and kind of snuck up on us.”

This spring, however, all of the “flagship” restaurants but Café Niche are returning (Britt said they hope to have the sandwich and soup shop back for the next round). They are also joined by 11 others:  Canella’s, Citris Grill, Fresco Italian Café, Frida Bistro, Log Haven, Moxi Wine Bistro, Sego Lily Café, Tiburon, Trio Downtown, Trio Cottonwood, Vertical Diner and Yamasaki.
Like Dine O’Round, prices at each restaurant are set — this time, at $20 and $30.

Unlike the downtown event, however, none of the restaurants are required to offer a lunch and dinner service. Also, they can offer any dish they want for either or both prices. Britt said this flexibility gives the participants more creative freedom and underscores the theme of diversity.

“We try not to put structure on how menus work because we have such a diversity of menus,” said Britt. For example, as a small plate restaurant specializing in appetizer-sized offerings, Meditrina will allow customers to pick a small plate from each part of its menu or a three course small plate offering. This would not be possible at a restaurant that specializes in full plate options.

In order not to draw business away from Dine O’Round, Diversity Dining will be held May 7–23, beginning roughly a week after the alliance’s event ends. Britt and Gillroy also hope to hold Diversity Dining twice a year, in spring and fall.

So far, Britt said that customers have responded enthusiastically — particularly now that she and Gillroy have had more time to focus on lining up restaurants, sending press releases and, of course attracting sponsors. The second Diversity Dining will be sponsored by City Weekly, SLUG Magazine, Libation, Uinta Brewing Company, Cali’s Natural Foods, Nicholas and Co. and QSaltLake.

A kickoff party will be held at Meditrina, 1394 S. West Temple, on May 2 from 6:30–9 p.m. Drinks and light appetizers will be served.

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