Free parking is icing on cake for Restaurant Week fans

Strawberry semifreddo — with red wine reduction, lemon shortbread and basil — at Parcel 32 on King Street on Thursday July 19, 2018. Wade Spees/Staff

In hopes of luring diners out for the now-official Restaurant Week extension, the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association has arranged for the city to offer free downtown parking on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

From 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., parking fees will be waived at four garages: East Bay/Prioleau (25 Prioleau St.), Majestic (211 King St.), Queen Street (93 Queen St.) and Visitor Center (63 Mary St.)

Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau director of media relations Doug Warner said Mayor John Tecklenburg didn’t hesitate when his office was asked for the support.

“I called the city and said, ‘We’re trying to get people back to work, and people back to restaurants’,” Warner said. “The mayor said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

According to Warner, although the city was spared physical damage from Florence, its restaurants and their employees took a major financial hit from the days lost to the evacuation order issued in preparation for it. Initially, the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association wasn’t certain its members would be able to replenish their inventories quickly enough to keep Restaurant Week going, but on Monday decided to extend the popular biannual prix-fixe promotion.

While three restaurants decided to observe the previously announced Restaurant Week end date of Sept. 16, dozens more participating restaurants are continuing to offer their three-course menus through Sept. 23. (Free parking is not available on Sunday.)

“By opening the garages free of charge, we hope to encourage citizens to support our local businesses,” Tecklenburg said in a statement announcing the fee suspension.

For more information about Restaurant Week, go to charlestonrestaurantassociation.com/restaurant-week.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.