California Restaurant Month a Big Success

Restaurant Month

It's not often that a sequel outdoes the original, but California Restaurant Month's second year has been one of the rare exceptions.

This January the destinations grew from 23 to 28 , giving visitors from far away - or those playing tourist in their own backyard - more chances to enjoy California's finest restaurants at an incredible value, from gourmet prix fixe menus and California wine pairings to celebrity chef dinners and more. Visitation to the CRM Web site was up 29 percent over last year as of late January, drawn by PR buzz and deeper content for culinary travelers, including more trip ideas, Dine and Drive itineraries, and travel tools.

The initial feedback from destination partners has been very positive, and Visit California's PR efforts resulted in 35.8 million media impressions in the U.S. and Canada, and more than $2.06 million in media value.

In addition to many regional placements statewide - which helps improve visibility for the various participating destinations - Visit California also has been making national placements, such as the "What's Cookin' with Wine" show on Cable Radio Network,,, and an "Entertainment Tonight" segment with Wolfgang Puck which included a CRM mention. Former "Top Chef" contestant Fabio Viviani, who owns Café Firenze and Firenze Osteria in the Los Angeles area, appeared on "Good Morning America" on January 27 and praised California fresh produce, among other things, while cooking Italian wedding soup. His segment alone reached about 5.1 million people, with an advertising value of approximately $230,000.

Now that the program is over, Visit California sent out surveys to participating destinations to find out what worked well and how to raise the bar on next year's program. Non-participating destinations also will be surveyed to find out how they could be included in the future.