NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — You have probably heard of Taco Week, Burger Week, and other restaurant weeks.

But what about a monthlong event? 

What You Need To Know

  • Restaurant Month is all September

  • Diners can check in to restaurants via Newport Beach's "Dine Pass" app

  • Grand prize in the final week includes a one night stay at a hotel

  • Restaurants were not charged a fee for this event (other restaurant weeks charge a fee for marketing, etc.)

That is exactly what Newport Beach is doing this month to celebrate and put a spotlight on restaurants during this pandemic.

Helmsman Ale House is one of the more than five dozen restaurants taking part in Newport Beach Restaurant Month during September. The restaurant is barely a year old, but in the short time Helmsman Ale House has been open, General Manager Troy Barton said there have been many changes.

“I feel like we’ve had about three grand openings during this,” said Barton.

When the pandemic started, Helmsman, like other restaurants, shifted its business to to-go or delivery only. When outdoor dining was allowed in Orange County, the restaurant in Newport Beach converted part of the parking lot into an outdoor dining space.  

“We’re really, really lucky to stay open and stay relevant during this time,” said Barton.

A small portion of indoor dining is allowed in Orange County, but Barton said it has been a struggle for the food industry and other businesses, too.

“We’re all, to some degree, hurting from this pandemic,” he said.

Restaurants received some help just in time for Newport Beach to kick off September’s Restaurant Week.

The city released an app to help promote restaurants. Diners like Jake Genova were encouraged to “check in to win” prizes like gift cards to restaurants, and stays at local hotels. The more place diners check in, the more chances they have to win.

“I think it’s really cool. It is shining a light, especially on some businesses hit hard with the lockdown and everything. [It is] an opportunity to get back on the tracks, or get back on the maps,” said Genova.

While restaurants are not required to do a special menu or discounts for the restaurant month, Helmsman is offering half-off appetizers. That is what convinced Genova to try one of the restaurants specialties, beet poke.

Genova’s review?

“I didn’t know what to expect with vegan poke, but that was pretty close. That was not bad,” he said chuckling.

Genova said weeklong events are usually hard to get to so it is nice there has been more time to take part in the month-long event in Newport Beach. Plus, he said, if you can win prizes that’s even more incentive for diners to maybe check out a new place, and eat out, or opt for take-out.

So far, Barton said restaurant month has been going well. He said that from the beginning of the month, he has had new customers come in who are aware of restaurant month. 

“It’s helped us gain sales in a time that we really needed the help,” said Barton.

If diners want to help local restaurants and food businesses in Newport Beach, there is still time to “check-in to win.”

The month has a special app-based dining pass that diners are encouraged to use to check into the different restaurants, ice cream shops, and other food businesses in the city.  

The final week grand prize is a one-night stay and breakfast for two at The Resort at Pelican Hill.

Other prizes include whale watching passes, a Nordstrom gift card, restaurant gift cards, a boat rental, and a private sunset cruise.