As businesses in Durham region continue to fight to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic, an Oshawa restaurant has brought forward an interactive initiative to help a number of owners make it through the holiday season.
Julie Eves took over Bulldog Pub & Grill in February, just before the pandemic hit. She’s been fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat ever since, using any revenue she gets to barely cover the bills.
“We didn’t pay ourselves for about four months,” she said.
“We just had to pay the bills. We took over the unit next door in April as well, so that’s been tough.”
Eves wanted to do something to help not only her restaurant, but several other local businesses as the holiday season approaches. She’s partnered with 17 food joints to create the “Bulldog Fiesta Passport” program.
“Everybody’s struggling,” she said. “We did a few things in the summertime with some other restaurants as well, so I just thought it was a great way to have restaurants support each other.”
Eves says there are 500 ‘passports’ available. Customers can pick one up from any of the 17 restaurants and ask for the ‘Bulldog Special.’ Patrons will then receive a stamp.
Once their books are completely filled with stamps from each place, they will be rewarded with a ‘thank you’ package, gift certificates and coupons. Customers’ names will also be entered into a raffle for a chance to win additional gifts.
Customers say the program is a ‘fun’ way to try new foods while supporting local businesses as they struggle to make ends meet.
“I come down once a week (for) takeout on Friday nights,” says regular Bulldog Pub & Grill customer Derek Osborne.
“I think it’s our responsibility as people in this community; if we want these small little local businesses and gems to stay alive, (we need to) really make a point of getting out there and supporting them any way we can.”
Osborne says he plans to visit all 17 restaurants, which include iGreek on Wilson Road. The eatery has also taken a hit during COVID-19, but has decided to help support others in the same predicament by participating in Eves’s passport program.
“It gets all the restaurants involved in the community and it kind of helps out with a few restaurants that aren’t going though such good times during COVID right now,” said owner Brandon Gough.
Places like Oshawa’s ICE BAR Cafe on Simcoe Street are fighting to stay open. Eves says the owner has told her some days the business is making as little as $200.
“Luckily we’ve gotten through,” Eves said.
“We want to help other people that aren’t as fortunate as we are to still be here. Every little bit counts.”
Eves says she has also partnered with a local volunteer group called Do Unto Others to make turkey dinners that will be delivered to the homeless on Christmas Eve. More information can be found here.
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