The Three-Minute Interview: National Harbor Restaurant Week organizer Rocell Viniard

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Food and Drink,People,Matt Connolly,3-Minute Interview

Rocell Viniard helps organize National Harbor's Restaurant Week, which runs from now until March 17. Participating restaurants offer three-course meals at a fixed price -- $20.13 for lunch and $35.13 for dinner.

Why Restaurant Week?

Part of my job is to look at National Harbor and coordinate events and activities that work for the property and work for all businesses within the harbor. We have over 20 restaurants on site, so it's only fitting that we feature our own restaurant week to give Washington a taste. Plus, because of the diversity of the restaurants we have here, I don't have to worry about any duplication of menus.

What goes into planning for Restaurant Week?

We've been planning the spring one now for about four or five months. You first of all have to choose dates that work best for the property and don't conflict for any other events, activities or conventions on site. We always try to choose one in the spring and choose one in the fall. That's also a time when the chefs are freshening up their menus. It makes sense from a food perspective. We extend ours a little longer than a week because we have found that it gives people a little more time to try multiple restaurants. This gives them more of an opportunity to dine and to try new restaurants that they haven't tried before.

How do you convince restaurants to join in?

It's actually not hard. You work with the chefs and the general managers of each of the restaurants. It's their opportunity to feature some of their signature items on their menu or try some new dishes. It's really to educate those that haven't dined there before and give them a flavor for their restaurant. The restaurants have to be willing to work within a three-course format and within a certain price point. At some restaurants, some of your upscale restaurants, that price point is significantly lower than what their normal price point is. Those restaurants have to be very creative in giving a sense of their menu in a very cost-effective manner.

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