The Grand Buddha Bistro is one of several local restaurants taking advantage of the opportunity to expand outdoor seating to help service more customers while sticking to COVID-19 protocols. Photo: Betsy Kline

Eat Local contest aims to help Castlegar area restaurants

Eat at one of 31 local restaurants — prizes include $1000 towards local restaurant meals.

The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce has launched a contest to encourage people to visit all of the area’s restaurants this summer.

The Eat Local contest is an initiative of the Castlegar and District Business Recovery Committee. The group includes the Chamber, City of Castlegar, RDCK Areas I and J, Destination Castlegar and local business owners.

To participate in the contest, you can stop by the Castlegar Visitor Centre to pick up a punch card and then simply go out to eat at one of the 31 participating restaurants.

Chamber executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk says a common theme has come out of direct communications with local businesses in recent weeks — a lack of customers.

The Eat Local campaign is just the first of several initiatives that will be coming out over the next few months as a result of consultations with more than 500 businesses.

“We wanted to start this campaign to give people the opportunity get out and explore and have fun,” said Verigin-Burk.

“This contest will increase existing and generate new customers for restaurants, giving them a much needed boost during the pandemic,” said mayor Bruno Tassonne.

“While visiting our local restaurants, please stay safe by respecting the protocols, staff and other customers — we’re all in this together.”

Because Castlegar’s restaurants are spread out across town, Verigin-Burk says a common misconception is that there are fewer restaurants around than there actually are. With one recent addition to the local food scene, there are now 34 places to eat in Castlegar and RDCK Areas I and J.

“That is significant, for an area with this size of population,” said Verigin-Burk.

The contest has just begun, but there are already 2,400 contest cards in circulation.

READ MORE: Castlegar businesses recognized for excellence

Verigin-Burk says early feedback from participating restaurants shows the contest is working and more people are going out to eat.

“We would like to shout out to all our great local restaurants for the services they provide,” said the owners of the Lions Head Smoke and Brew Pub. “It’s a testament to how amazing this community is, that supports all the local businesses through these unprecedented times. This contest has been a great extension of that support — thank you.”

“We have such incredible assets for food in our town,” said Verigin-Burk.

“I really encourage people before you head out anywhere else, to support our local businesses. They are the people employing your child, or your neighbour’s child or you personally. The more we support them, the more viable they are and the more jobs there are and the better it is for our economy.”

Contest prizes are “Eat Local Bucks” that will be rewarded through drawings. Ten restaurant visits gets you entered in the $250 draw, 20 gets you into the $500 draw, and completing the card gets you into the $1,000 draw.

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