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      Downtown dining week begins today

      Downtown Dining Week begins this evening at some 22 restaurants around downtown Syracuse. Restaurants are coming up with specials that offer a three course meal for $25. The event runs through February 26th.

      At Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, the focus isn't on Valentine's Day - but Downtown Dining Week.

      "For us it's great, it gives us a chance to lure in new customers that maybe wouldn't come in normally...and showcase what we can do," said manager Kevin Griffin.

      This year, 22 restaurants will be showcasing what they can do for nearly two weeks, starting Tuesday.

      At Lemon Grass, a fine dining restaurant across the street from Empire, Downtown Dining week means more people and extra staffing. It also means reaching out to new people.

      "One good thing about it is even though money-wise, it's not good for the restaurant," said owner and chef Max Chutinthranond. "But the thing will get new customers from all over the place and after we start them up here and get them familiar with the place...they will come back. "

      Max said his restaurant might not seat as many people as Empire during Downtown Dining Week, but if he matches his record of 3,500 customers, Max said he'll be just fine.