The Village of Winnetka is getting creative in its efforts to assist local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now challenging residents with a new incentivized program.
Winnetka officials announced the Take Out Challenge earlier this month. The initiative challenges locals to spend $150 at one or multiple Winnetka restaurants.
Anyone who meets that total can then input their receipts on the village’s website and will be subsequently entered to win local dining gift cards or shopping experiences.
The initiative will remain open until April 15, 2021.
“We’re encouraging people to go buy at local restaurants, support them and take out,” said Liz Dechant, the village’s economic development coordinator. “There’s a real opportunity to get people excited about eating out.”
The Take Out Challenge is one of several efforts along the North Shore to support local restaurants, such as a government rebate programs in Wilmette, Village grants in Winnetka, relaxed outdoor regulations in Glencoe and a resident-led initiative by an 11-year-old.
The newest idea from Winnetka will reward participating residents on a biweekly basis, Dechant said. The first reward, a $100 gift card to Mino’s Italian, will be given out Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Anyone who enters their $150 worth of receipts will be eligible for all prize drawings through April 15, Dechant added.
Village officials came up with the idea for this initiative earlier this year when local restaurant owners were looking for ways to encourage people to keep ordering takeout.
“We got tremendous support during the summer outdoor dining season, so we wanted to find a way to excite people about ordering during the winter months and also look forward to something,” Dechant said.
Winnetka is in the midst of a substantial push to support local eateries, Dechant said, adding that the village is targeting a series of efforts in 2021 to assist them. She said the village is running print advertisements, doing social media profiles and amplifying the focus on local restaurants through its Distinctly Winnetka text-loyalty campaign.
Earlier this year, the village provided nearly $300,00 worth of funding to local businesses through its sales tax rebate program. Officials followed up that program with a second series of $4,000 grants distributed to local restaurants.
Dechant also said the village is helping restaurants apply for financial support grants at both the state and federal level, adding “anything we find, we’re passing that information along.”
The program will award eight prizes throughout its duration, including two Valentine’s Day dinners at Aboyer, a gift card to True Juice and the chance to make a personalized smoothie of the week, and more.
If a participant submits receipts to every restaurant in Winnetka during the challenge, they will be entered into a grand-prize raffle for two VIP tickets to the Winnetka Music Festival next year.
The program is open to anyone and residency in Winnetka is not a requirement to participate. For more information about the challenge, and to enter, visit here.
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.