College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

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Yes, the annual Champaign County Area Restaurant Week will again be celebrated this year. But with a twist.

The 2021 model, dubbed the “Takeout Edition,” starts Friday and runs through Feb. 6. Some 28 restaurants are participating, which is similar to recent years.

“It does surprise me, actually,” said Terri Reifsteck, Visit Champaign County’s vice president of marketing. “It was a slow start to get restaurants participating I think because there was a lot of uncertainty as to where we were going to be in January.”

In December and early January, more restaurants came on board.

Several establishments are joining Restaurant Week for the first time, including just-opened A Taste of Both Worlds, Wood N’ Hog Barbecue, Aspen Tap House, Po’ Boys, Farren’s Pub & Eatery, food trucks La Paloma and The Stuft Bird and caterer Dish Passionate Cuisine.

“Because it’s takeout, it’s a little bit easier for some people to participate than in years past,” Reifsteck said.

It has been a tumultuous year for restaurants in the area because of pandemic regulations. They were opened, then closed, then opened again.

Visit Champaign County long ago decided to adapt Restaurant Week to a takeout edition.

“In past years, during restaurant week, they were packed,” Reifsteck said. “We didn’t want to create a scenario where people would be gathering while waiting for tables.”

Reifsteck asked past participants for feedback, and they were open to the takeout idea.

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