Groton starts 'Eat Local, Win Local' program to give restaurants a boost
Groton — Over the past weeks, Groton’s economic development staff has been distributing information about federal and state assistance programs, but kept wondering what else they could do for local businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to help,” said Paige Bronk, Groton’s economic and community development manager.
At the same time, residents also were looking to support restaurants in the community, he said.
Groton on Monday launched an “Eat Local, Win Local” program intended to engage local consumers and help restaurateurs, Bronk said.
Under the program, which runs through May 4, people who spend at least $15 at any two different restaurants in Groton — $30 in total — can snap a picture of their receipts and email the photo to Groton economic development technician Lauren Post at firstname.lastname@example.org. They then will be entered to win one of 10 gift certificates for $25 each to spend at various Groton restaurants.
“It helps our businesses immediately because people are going out and spending the money,” said Post, who is spearheading the program. Then later, it also will help the people who can spend the $25 they won at one of various restaurants.
Groton’s “Eat Local, Win Local” program was modeled after a similar one started by Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge. Edge told other towns they should feel free to adopt the program, and it was a natural fit for Groton, Post said. Plainville also started a program.
Post said a social media post on Groton’s new program reached more than 3,000 people by Tuesday morning, and people have been very supportive.
“We just hope that people will go out and maybe instead of making their breakfast at home, just go and spend that $15 at one of our restaurants and just give our restaurateurs a boost in their business,” Post said.
She said many restaurants in town are open for takeout or delivery, even if they might have more limited hours or menus, and are being creative.
She compiled a list of about 41 restaurants and 11 fast-food establishments in Groton that are open for takeout or delivery. The list, which is available at bit.ly/GrotonEats, is being updated daily and Groton restaurants looking to be added to the list can email email@example.com.
A list of available resources, created by Sam Eisenbeiser, Groton’s economic development specialist, is available at bit.ly/GrotonBizRecovery. People can sign up to receive weekly updates.
Bronk said this is local restaurants' most vulnerable time, as they are entirely reliant on takeout and delivery, if they provide that service, so it's important to keep cash flowing into the restaurants.
184 Pizzeria in Mystic is one of the restaurants offering delivery and takeout. Owner Carol Fitzsimmons said the restaurant is taking safety precautions, such as having people come one at a time to the front door to pick up takeout orders. She also is encouraging people who go out to be safe, wash their hands frequently and wear a mask.
Fitzsimmons said her business has dropped but she still has a few customers coming in. She’s offering her regular menu, except for a couple of items, and keeping food fresh.
She said she thinks the new program will help businesses and also give people who win a gift card something to look forward to.
Bronk said that when it is safe to open up operations again, the town is extremely interested in helping businesses “get back to where they want to be.”