DC Eateries Join Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Picks Program Offers Deals, Special Meals

For D.C., the popular Cherry Blossom Festival is back and in full bloom. D.C. area restaurants are able to participate in the festivities by being a part of the annual Cherry Picks restaurant program. The program features some of the D.C. area's unique restaurants and their diverse food selections.

Participating restaurants offer special spring menus throughout the festival. Some restaurants have seen an increase in revenue because of the Cherry Blossom Festival, while other restaurants have seen little change.

"We've seen the same amount of [customers] that we're used to. We're pretty busy on the weekends regardless and during the week it just depends," said Kapnos employee Haley Abarr.

There are over 80 restaurants that have chosen to join the list of Cherry Picks restaurants for this year. According to the Cherry Blossom Festival website, this year marks the 12th year of the restaurant program. Some restaurants, like Belga Cafe, offer special spring menus to celebrate the festival. Items include cherry and brie crostini as a starter and pan seared duck breast for the main course. To wrap up the meal, Belga Café offers cherry tart for dessert. Other restaurants, such as IHOP- Columbia Heights, offer single spring inspired items on their menu.  

"Spring time crepes is what we're advertising. It comes with a meal and the crepes come with it. The meals run from $6.99 and go up to $8.99," said IHOP– Columbia Heights employee Mark Baker.

The Cherry Picks Program partners with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). This partnership allows RAMW members to garner more exposure for their restaurants. The partnership has been established for more than three years and is a good relationship for both visitors and restaurants.

"This year we're working with the National Cherry Blossom Festival to help promote members of RAMW and their new spring menus," said Marketing Communications Manager Kyle Reese. "The reason why we partner with the Cherry Blossom Festival is because it's such a large event."

Along with RAMPW, DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) is also involved in the Cherry Picks Restaurants program. One of their jobs is to answer questions that interested restaurants may have about joining the program. According to the Downtown DC website, the organization is a private non-profit business with the mission of improving the Downtown experience for everyone through research and resources.

"We do the best that we can to market the program to area restaurants and then they take it upon themselves to register for the program. It's a time for them to use the festival and the season and the fact that the tourists are in town to their advantage," said Remi Allen, program coordinator of external relations for Downtown BID.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event that commemorates the gift of cherry trees given by Tokyo to Washington, D.C. The gift and the annual festival represent the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan. The festival hosts events such as the blossom kite festival and grand sake tasting. The Cherry Blossom Festival is blooming from March 20th until April 13th. To learn more about the festival and its various events, visit the website at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.