'Itasca Bucks' business vouchers extended until the end of 2021, mayor announces
The voucher program designed to help provide financial assistance to Itasca restaurants and breweries during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended until the end of the year, village officials announced.
"Itasca Bucks," which was created by the village board in last June, was set to end April 30. According to the village, the expired vouchers will be eligible for redemption at participating establishments until Dec. 31.
New vouchers have not been distributed. However, Mayor Jeff Pruyn said officials are considering issuing more vouchers to be used until the end of the year.
"Itasca restaurant and brewery businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions," Pruyn said in a statement. "Some families are just getting back on their feet and I want every single household to have an opportunity to use their Itasca Bucks to support our businesses in town."
The program was extended based on its success and because of the pandemic's economic effect on local businesses that has been longer than anticipated.
The program works by providing each household in the village with $50 in total vouchers -- four $10 and two $5 vouchers. 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 can be used for dine-in, takeout and deliveries of food.
Residents 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.
To date, $164,670 in Itasca Bucks have been redeemed, generating more than $635,500 in total sales, according to Itasca village officials. Approximately $215,625 is the total direct village cost of the vouchers that have been distributed thus far.
"It's become a very popular program," Pruyn said. "The residents like it and the restaurants like it too. Not one restaurant that signed onto this program has gone out of business. I think that shows the success of it."
While originally just five restaurants opted in to the program, more have since joined. Currently, a total of 13 businesses participate: Antonio's Ristorante, Buenos Dias Burritos, Church Street Brewing Company, Cucina Casale, Daddy O's Diner, Fox & Turtle, Grando's Hot Dogs, Itasca Brewing Company, Kean's Bakery, Naxos Restaurant, Prairie River, Eaglewood Resort, and Tree Guys Pizza.