In the past year, business has been tough for small restaurants and locally owned eateries. No one knows that better than the owners themselves, but how can you help others when you’re struggling yourself?
That’s a problem that the owner of El Mezcal in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has found a unique solution to. Adolfo Melendez was first introduced to the idea when his restaurant won a local popularity contest held by a real estate company in the area.
“They did something where people voted for their favorite restaurant and I got second place so they bought $300 in gift cards from me,” Melendez told CNN. “Right after that I was like I’ll probably do something similar.”
Since then, he’s taken $2,000 from his advertising budget to hold raffles for gift cards to other small, local restaurants that he knows could use the boost.
It’s a lovely way to keep the friendly competition alive — emphasis on the “friendly.” And it certainly isn’t hurting the Tex-Mex joint’s public image, either. It’s a win-win situation, and Melendez knows it.
“Local businesses are owned by families that live in town, so for us, to get together and help who needs it is important,” he told Stevens Point News. “My customers are going to appreciate it, and they will go to them and still come to me.”
“There’s probably 35 percent of the restaurants that keep struggling a lot here,” he told CNN.
Winners of the raffles are announced on El Mezcal’s Facebook page.
“If you help one person and another person helps another, that will help a lot,” he said.
His kids get in on the fun, too, and help choose the winners.
“My kids were pulling out the winners’ names with me,” Melendez explained. “Helping the community is something that they learn since they are little.”
And the other restaurants? They’re certainly happy for the gesture.
“COVID times it’s very important to eat local, small mom-and-pop shops,” Pete Ananiadis of Olympia Family Restaurant told WKOW-TV. “He understands that, and for all of us right now it’s a tough time.”
“That’s part of what keeps us alive,” Melendez agreed. “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.”
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