Galveston Restaurant Week benefits HIV/AIDS nonprofit.
By Marene Gustin
The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean things are slowing down—at least not in Galveston.
The island is gearing up to party hard at Mardi Gras in February (see story on page 59). But first, foodies will flock to the annual Galveston Restaurant Week, which actually spans two weeks from January 6 to the 21st.
Galveston.com & Company launched Galveston Restaurant Week seven years ago to boost tourism during an otherwise slow month, and to promote participating eateries. A portion of the proceeds from the event’s discounted, fixed-price menus will go to Access Care of Coastal Texas (ACCT), a nonprofit that provides HIV/AIDS services in Galveston, Brazoria, and Matagorda counties.
“Our team has worked with the staff and clients of Access Care of Coastal Texas for years,” says Jim Cordell, vice president and chief creative officer of Galveston.com & Company. “It’s a wonderful service for those people in our community living with HIV or AIDS. The money donated by participating Restaurant Week eateries helps to provide healthy, nutritious meals for ACCT clients throughout the year.”
While proceeds from Galveston Restaurant Week will be used to fund Access Care’s meals program, the agency also offers free HIV testing, prevention counseling, health education and risk reduction, clothing, financial aid, housing and medication assistance, transportation, and volunteer services.
“We also have a free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program,” says Mark White, ACCT’s executive director. “And we also partner with the University of Texas Medical Branch here on the island, as well as the county health department, for services.”
Access Care of Coastal Texas was founded 37 years ago by a group of friends who banded together to help one another through the AIDS crisis. Coincidentally, 37 restaurants are participating in Galveston Restaurant Week in 2018.
“Last year, there were 35 participating restaurants, and they raised $3,500 for ACCT,” White says. “We’ve been the charity recipient for several years now, and we are very appreciative of the support. Plus, the community really seems to enjoy the event.”
And what’s not to enjoy? Diners can nosh on fresh Gulf seafood, sushi, steaks, pizza, Tex-Mex, and more. Seafood parlors, cafés on The Strand, and even some of the major tourist hotel restaurants are included.
“Galveston Restaurant Week is a simple and effective way for us to support our local community,” says Paul Schultz, vice president for hospitality at Landry’s, Inc. “We are thrilled to have nearly a dozen of our locations participate this year and help support the mission of Access Care of Coastal Texas.”
In addition to the Landry’s locations, participating eateries include longtime Galveston favorites such Gaido’s, Gumbo Diner, and Saltwater Grill. For a complete list, visit Galveston.com.
“The food in Galveston is just great,” says Houstonian Jennifer Olin, whose family has a vacation home on the island. “I think we’ve eaten at every restaurant on the list. Since we listed our house on Airbnb, I always let my guests know when something special is happening around town. Galveston Restaurant Week is one of those special events that our guests really enjoy. I leave a list of our favorite restaurants and encourage them to try as many as possible. Even if folks are looking for an inexpensive weekend away, they can have a fabulous meal for so little money that it’s like an added bonus to their weekend fun.”
On top of all that, Galveston Restaurant Week diners who snap photos of their favorite dishes, drinks, or chefs and upload them to Galevston.com or Instagram (with the hashtag #GalvRW18) will be eligible to win a $500 grand prize. But the real prize is helping a worthy nonprofit group while enjoying the special prices.
“For such a small town, it’s amazing the number of quality restaurants we have here,” White says. “And the money they raise goes a long way toward helping us.”
No tickets are required for Galveston Restaurant Week, although reservations are suggested for the fixed-price menus. Two- and three-course dinners will be priced between $20 and $35; the two-course lunches, breakfasts, and brunches will cost between $10 and $20.
Galveston Restaurant Week is sponsored by OutSmart, Gordon Food Service, Prestige Oysters, Inc., and Houstonia magazine.
This article appears in the January 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.