'Itasca Bucks' help boost restaurant recovery
Itasca residents are benefiting from a form of COVID-19 relief that aims to get the people back to local restaurants.
"Itasca Bucks" are vouchers issued by the village and mailed to residents. People can use the vouchers at certain local restaurants and breweries to discount the overall bill by as much as $50.
"We wanted to come up with something for our residents but also help our businesses," Mayor Jeff Pruyn said.
Participating businesses include Antonio's Ristorante, Buenos Dias Burritos, Cucina Casale, Daddy O's Diner, Fox & Turtle, Grando's Hot Dogs, Kean's Bakery, Naxos Restaurant, Tree Guys Pizza, Church Street Brewing Company and Itasca Brewing Company.
Patrons use the vouchers to cover part of their bill, then restaurants seek reimbursement from the village. So far, restaurants have submitted requests for reimbursements for $22,440, Village Administrator Carie Anne Ergo said.
Pruyn estimates about $200,000 could be dispersed. The program ends July 31.
"We think this has been really successful," Ergo said. "I think a bigger city would've struggled to do something like this."
Ergo said the funds are coming from sales taxes and food and beverage taxes collected before the pandemic.
Those who don't want to use their Itasca Bucks can mail them back to the village or put them in the drop box at Village Hall and the vouchers will be donated to the Itasca Food Pantry.
"It's brought people out spending a little bit and it's helped the neighborhood out, too," said Bessie Alexopoulous, manager of Daddy O's Diner. "I really want to thank the mayor for using this program for helping out the community during all of this COVID madness."
Only one voucher can be used at a time and it can't be combined with other discounts. Residents must mention the voucher when placing the order. The vouchers work for dine-in, takeout and deliveries of food.