A Wisconsin restauranteur, responding to the effects of the pandemic on mom-and-pop eateries in his Stevens Point community, has taken $2,000 of his own advertising budget and spent it on gift cards to seven other locally-owned restaurants.
There’s a strategy at work here for Adolfo Melendez, who owns Tex-Mex restaurant El Mezcal. He’s giving the cards away via raffle, soliciting likes on Facebook along the way, in order to bolster his social media presence.
But he’s doing so with a sort of “rising tide lifts all boats” philosophy, encouraging people to think about going to locally-owned restaurants affected adversely by COVID-19.
“In these COVID times it’s very important to eat local, small mom and pop shops,” said one of his competitors, Olympia Family Restaurant owner Pete Ananiadis, to WKOW-TV. “He understands that, and for all of us right now it’s a tough time.”
“If you help one person and another person helps another, that will help a lot,” Melendez said.
As the Good News Network noted in its coverage, “He appreciates his peers. He understands that their success is an affirmation of his own, and he encourages his community to join his efforts to ensure other restaurants continue not only to hold their own but to thrive.”
That’s especially important in a town the size of Stevens Point, with just over 25,000 people, located in a largely rural region in the center of Wisconsin.
“That’s part of what keeps us alive,” he told WKOW. “You can go to Applebee’s, or you can go to Pizza Hut but it ain’t the same like when you go to this little diner or pizza joint.”
CNN noted in its coverage that as of December 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking restaurants across the country have closed at least temporarily (but some permanently) as a result of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.
“There’s probably 35% of the restaurants that keep struggling a lot here,” Melendez told CNN.
Melendez said he was initially the beneficiary of a similar gesture: A local realtor bought $300 in gift cards from his restaurant after it was voted one of the residents’ favorites.
But he decided to pay it forward, and in the process, brought more local restaurants into the mix.