RESIDENTS are being urged to get out and support local hospitality businesses this weekend as they face one of their toughest challenges yet.
With tourism taking another hit due to the current COVID lockdowns and restrictions, the Big Eats Weekend campaign has been launched to help our local hospitality businesses survive.
The campaign has been organised by founder and owner of Port Macquarie EaTs Ellen Crepaz.
"We started the Port Macquarie EaTs Facebook group in March last year because of COVID and how it was impacting local businesses," Mrs Crepaz said.
"The Facebook group started with only a handful of people and now we have over 13,000 active members in the group."
The group's aim is to highlight different local hospitality businesses in the region and support them by purchasing a meal or drink and following it up with a positive review.
"It's not only for locals to find a business to support, but also provides a boost for those businesses when they get good reviews," Mrs Crepaz said.
"We have also seen instances where people have been taking out their frustrations on young staff because of the current restrictions and guidelines for venues, so this weekend will be a chance to give back to our hospitality businesses."
Owner of The Grill and Sea Secrets, Dhak Bahadur (DB) Chowhan, said business has been slow due to COVID restrictions.
"On one day we only had two tables booked. The bookings have gone down completely," he said.
Mr Chowhan said they have started using Menulog and DoorDash to help keep the business afloat.
"We're just doing whatever we can do."
Restaurants and hotels have been put on the back burner and now it's our chance to give back and support them.Ellen Crepaz
The Big Eats Weekend has also been organised to help businesses bounce back from the March 2021 floods.
Mr Chowhan's second restaurant, Sea Secrets, had only opened in December 2020 and was then damaged during the flood earlier this year.
"Sea Secrets had only been open for a few months before we had to close it because of the floods. It then took us three months to reopen again."
Mrs Crepaz said it's businesses like The Grill and Sea Secret that will benefit from the Big Eats Weekend.
"There is a grant available for hospitality businesses, but it's difficult for new businesses to get it. That's why we're advocating for these businesses and urging people to support them," she said.
"Restaurants and hotels have been put on the back burner and now it's our chance to give back and support them."
The Big Eats Weekend will be held from Friday, July 23, to Sunday, July 25.
Locals are encouraged to dine in or grab a takeaway from a local business and upload a photo and a review onto the Port Macquarie EaTs Facebook group and tag #portmacquarieeatsweekend for the chance to win a number of great vouchers to spend at local businesses.
"These businesses really stepped up and helped during the flood and just getting out this weekend and supporting them is going to make a difference," Mrs Crepaz said.
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