DES MOINES, Iowa - Restaurant Week in Des Moines is winding down Sunday, but it takes place when people have fewer distractions.
"This is a good window for the restaurant week to take place in Des Moines because it is post state fair and pre-football," said Jennifer Dunker, President and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association.
Forty restaurants are offering two lunches or one three-course dinner for $28 through Sunday. The eateries involved range from Centro in downtown Des Moines to Hy-Vee Market Grille in West Des Moines.
Dunker notes you can now find food from around the world in the city. "What we really like is how ethnic restaurants, and the definition of that is changing," Dunker said. "You can find things like Brazilian and Peruvian and Ethiopian."
She says Mexican, Italian and Chinese dishes are no longer considered ethnic because younger generations grew up eating that food.
In addition, Dunker says Des Moines is near the top of U.S. cities in its number of restaurants. "It's about the same as New York City," said Dunker. "It's actually second only to San Francisco when you look at the number of restaurants per 10,000 people in the city of Des Moines."
The city also has an especially large concentration of independent restaurants.
The restaurant industry in Iowa is a $4.4 billion dollar business. According to the Restaurant Association, every dollar spent in a restaurant generates another 80-cents in economic activity.
But Dunker says there's a acute shortage of restaurant workers. "We actually know that some places, more outside of Des Moines, have had to limit hours, and in some instances, not expand because it is so hard to find employees," said Dunker. "There's a 'We're hiring' sign in nearly every window of every restaurant."