Even the novel coronavirus is no match for the community-wide camaraderie fostered by Harvest Week, EatDenver and the GrowHaus’ annual dinner series celebrating local, independent restaurants and Colorado producers. This year, the weeklong event takes place September 23–October 4 with 49 area restaurants on board to participate so far—the most in the fundraiser’s 13-year history.

For past Harvest Weeks, diners gathered at the GrowHaus in Elyria-Swansea for intimate, themed, family-style meals collaboratively cooked on-site by groups of local chefs. Due to pandemic restrictions and the GrowHaus’ building closure, the format is different this year: Instead of hosting a week’s worth of in-person events, all participating restaurants will offer special Harvest Week menus for dine-in, pick-up, or delivery. A portion of sales from each menu—which will feature ingredients from Colorado growers—goes toward nonprofit EatDenver’s efforts to support the Mile High City’s independent restaurants and the GrowHaus’ work to provide healthy, fresh food and educational outreach to its neighbors in Elyria-Swansea, Globeville, and beyond.

“We’re thrilled to go back to the original format of Harvest Week, where restaurants host their own specials on their food and beverage menus and donate a small portion of those proceeds back to EatDenver and the GrowHaus,” says Katie Lazor, executive director of EatDenver. “Right now, restaurants are going through an incredibly devastating time. We considered doing an in-person event but wanted to be able to send people to restaurants to support them directly while still fundraising for both of our nonprofits.”

Harvest Week 2019 at the GrowHaus. Photo by Caroline Grace

The structure of Harvest Week 2020 also allows more restaurants and diners to participate; due to the GrowHaus’ limited capacity, past events typically hosted chefs from about 30 Denver restaurants and fed 700 diners. Lazor says EatDenver is forgoing the annual tradition of centering meals around themes like comfort food, zero-waste, or vegetarian fare, and leaving Harvest Week menus entirely up to the chefs cooking for it.

Despite these changes, the purpose of the event is the same: to spotlight independent restaurants and Colorado farmers, ranchers, and craft beverage makers. “The entire Colorado food system has just been rocked this year, so this is our opportunity to show off all its layers through the restaurants and tell many stories in one event,” says Lazor.

“Though Harvest Week will look a little different this year, it’s still a great opportunity to share with our community what the Denver dining scene has to offer. I get excited at any opportunity to highlight our state’s bounty, and I’m extra proud to be a part of EatDenver, whose sole purpose is supporting the independent restaurants of Colorado,” says Jeff Osaka, chef-owner of Osaka Ramen.

Harvest Week comes at a make-or-break time for the hospitality industry, one of the economic sectors hit hardest by the pandemic. If you can’t participate in the event, support local independent restaurants by dining in, ordering takeout, and by contacting your elected officials in support of the RESTAURANTS Act.

Here’s the list of Harvest Week 2020 participants (more will be added to the EatDenver website as the event draws closer):

Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.