MOUNT KISCO – Restaurants have taken a big hit from the COVID-19 crisis, suspending their businesses and lay off hourly staff. Most restaurants do not have two to three months of capital in the bank to weather the pandemic.
To help alleviate the financial stresses placed on eateries, Mount Kisco–based website designer Laura Kelly had an idea to have local patrons pay for a dining experience at a favorite local restaurant now and then enjoy it later when the restaurant has reopened.
Last week, Kelly launched RestaurantRelief.net, a one-stop site that makes it easy for northern Westchester diners to support their favorite restaurants by buying digital gift cards today when the restaurants most need support, to be redeemed later. The site has already pooled together restaurant listings and gift-card links for 40 eateries in Mount Kisco, Pleasantville, Chappaqua, Katonah, Croton-on-Hudson, and other northern Westchester towns. Kelly plans to continue adding restaurants’ gift-card links to the site. “All area restaurants are welcome, and it doesn’t cost them anything to be included,” she said.
RestaurantRelief.net also features a Resources section with links to various northern Westchester villages’ updates on various restaurants’ takeout/curbside pickup/delivery services.
Before launching the site, Kelly discussed the idea with a number of local restaurateurs and got enthusiastic feedback from owners such as Bobby Epstein, who runs Kisco River Eatery and Muscoot Tavern. “I just had to furlough 20 people,” Epstein said. “These people rely on a paycheck, and this support would help me give them a stipend.”
Kelly is spreading the word about Restaurant Relief through local media and social media platforms such as Nextdoor.com and Facebook community groups. “There are thousands of us in northern Westchester who love to go out to eat in our communities and have gotten to know the people working in those restaurants,” said Kelly. “While we’re all cloistered at home with our smartphones in hand, I wanted to find an easy but meaningful way to show support when it matters most to these folks.”
Dozens of northern Westchester diners have written to Restaurant Relief to suggest their favorite places be added to the Restaurant Relief gift card list. Since not every area restaurant has a digital gift-card or voucher program already in place, RestaurantRelief.net will offer free tech assistance to help restaurants quickly set up secure digital gift card transactions.
If an area restaurant would like their gift card offer to be listed on the site or wants help setting up a digital gift-card offer, contact [email protected].