For the next week, dozens of Quad Cities restaurants are offering discounted menu items. The specials are part of the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Fifth Annual Restaurant Week.
John Sharoian owns Johnny’s Pizza and Slices in Davenport. The restaurant opened last summer, but this isn’t Sharoian’s first foray into pizza. The recipes have been in the family for about 60 years.
"It's a traditional, Nablidon pizza," he says. "It's New York style, so it's thin crust, but it's stretched with olive oil, rather than with flour or cornmeal, so it's a more wholesome, flavorful, crispy crust."
Before Johnny’s, Sharoian and his father owned Jake’s Pizza in Calamus, Iowa. After his father passed away, Sharoian stepped away from the industry for 12 years.
"Pizza always brings you back," he says.
And now he now he gets to share the family business with the next generation.
"My daughters were old enough to be interested in the business and they asked a lot of questions," Sharoian says. "They wanted to do it primarily, so that's why we're here."
Sharoian says many customers recognize his family name and were already fans of his style of pizza. And for new customers, he says part of the draw is that everything is prepared fresh.
"We don't have a freezer on the premises, so whether it's our sausage, our chicken, our pizza dough, our sauce, everything is made daily."
Another family business opened up last summer in Davenport. Chris Adams and his brother opened Driftwood Pub, which is located along the Mississippi River. Adams is new to the industry, but says his brother used to own a restaurant in Wisconsin.
"One of the first things we implemented was a Wisconsin-style fish fry, so every Friday we put on that walleye fish fry here," Adams says. "We've got a great dish that's been super popular. It's the chicken kiev dish, and that was one of my mother's recipes, and it's been very successful."
And he says the location draws large crowds in the warmer months.
"I think our biggest hurdle right now is letting both the Iowa and the Illinois sides of the Quad Cities know we're here," Adams says. "We're one of the only venues along the river, so come on out; you won't be disappointed. As the warmer weather comes, enjoy the patio."
Driftwood employee Kristina Shore says the specialty drinks and large menu appeal to a wide range of customers.
"It's not necessarily a dress code type of a place," Shore says. "We're right here on the bike path, so you can come in off a run or a bike or whatever and still get a fabulous meal at a really nice price and some killer drinks and food while sitting right on the water."
Across the river in Rock Island, Jumer’s Casino and Hotel is also taking part in Quad Cities Restaurant Week. From dining to gaming, Jumer’s spokesperson Bill Renk says the staff works hard to make sure guests have a good time.
"This is an interesting business," Renk says. "You know, obviously, a lot of folks come here and when they leave, it's like well, what do I have to show? Well, what it is, it's entertainment. We want to make sure that when they leave, they've had an experience they can carry with them."
The Blue Square Café and DJ’s Steakhouse at Jumer’s will offer special menus during Restaurant Week. Renk says this effort by the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau encourages people to get out and explore diverse dining options in the community.
"I think it's a great opportunity to perhaps go to some restaurants that you're not familiar with," he says. "And I think that as restaurateurs, to be able to offer your product and show your product off to some new folks, and to perhaps win them over as a regular customer, it's a great opportunity."
You can view all the participating restaurants and their menus at qcrestaurantweek.com.