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The Big Eat in July 2019. Photo by Nikki A. Rae, courtesy of EatDenver

How Buying Gift Cards Now Helps Save Your Favorite Independent Restaurants Later

The Double Down for Denver Restaurants campaign benefits locally owned establishments and provides matching funds to keep nonprofit EatDenver alive, too.

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If you’ve ever attended a Harvest Week dinner in October at the GrowHaus or dined your way through the Big Eat in July at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, you have EatDenver to thank for those epic parties. Or, have you ever scored discounts at restaurants like Ace Eat Serve or Leven Deli Co. through the Dining Deck that comes out each year? That’s EatDenver’s work, too. Even if you’ve simply enjoyed a meal or a drink at one of the more than 200 independent restaurants listed below—all EatDenver members, from the DTC to Boulder—then you owe a debt of gratitude to the nonprofit association that connects some of the most creative, collaborative, and craveable restaurants on the Front Range.

Those restaurants are in peril right now, quite literally, with in-person dining off-limits and takeout orders bringing in just 15 to 20 percent of the revenue needed to pay bills for rent, utilities, insurance, internet, and third-party reservation and delivery platforms. Not to mention covering payroll for the employees our local owners have been able to retain—more than 83 percent of EatDenver’s member restaurant staff have been furloughed and more than 70 percent of those restaurants are at least temporarily closed.

There are myriad initiatives and fundraising websites begging for support for those struggling independent restaurants right now, and all are doing good work. But Stephanie Bonin, owner of Duo Restaurant in Highland and creator of the Double Down for Denver Restaurants campaign, says that what restaurants are desperate for the most is cash. “It’s the one tool we need,” she says. “And with so many people asking how they can help, it occurred to me that gift cards, with matching donations, would work double time. It helps operators with liquidity now but also acknowledges that when we reopen, we’ll need so much more help. Which is where EatDenver comes in; we need that organization to make sure restaurants navigate the new dining landscape the right way.”

The idea for #DoubleDownDenver is simple: Buy a gift card at any EatDenver member restaurant (full list below) as of April 20 and a matching donation (up to $43,000) will be allocated to EatDenver from a sponsor-contributed fund. Thus far, Campari America, Restaurant Solutions Inc., Ecolab, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Messner Reeves LLP, New Belgium Brewing, ToMarket, Curtis Corrado Farmers Agency, Moody Insurance, Seattle Fish Company, and What Chefs Want have stepped up to sponsor the campaign; Bonin and EatDenver board members and executive director Katie Lazor are working to secure even more matching funds. “Buying gift cards is like extending your favorite restaurant a no-interest interest loan,” Bonin says. “Takeout and gift cards let restaurants inch along until we can reopen, but with Double Down for Denver Restaurants, your purchase has twice the power and helps EatDenver be there for us when we need it.”

Bonin isn’t the only restaurant owner grateful to EatDenver for its advocacy and assistance in weathering the COVID-19 crisis. Dana Faulk Query, co-owner and “creative cat” of the Big Red F Restaurant Group (the Post Brewing Co., West End Tavern, Centro Mexican Kitchen, Lola Coastal Mexican, Zolo Grill, and Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar), marvels at the community that EatDenver has fostered. “True community is created through shared experiences, helping and supporting one another,” she says. “EatDenver is an organization worth fighting for, and Big Red F is honored to be a member and supporter of the Double Down campaign.”

Bonin also praises the way EatDenver connects the local independent restaurant community, providing legislative, marketing, and public relations services and opportunities for networking which “create a camaraderie that is priceless,” according to Bonin. “The EatDenver list serve, in particular, is like our own private Google; who has a gift card platform they love? Who has recycled vegetable oil? What are the issues we need to rally around?,” she says. “Any small business owner needs a second set of hands, and EatDenver is that for us.”

Lazor, who has served as EatDenver’s executive director since late 2016, credits the nimbleness of the organization, which is funded through (now canceled) events and (dried up) membership dues, to its small size; the nonprofit functions with a paid staff of two. “We’re so adaptable, we were able to give restaurants the information they needed to make quick but crucial decisions for their business in the early days of this crisis,” she says. “Now and moving forward, our members need the information sharing and trusted voices of the EatDenver community to give best practices and advice on how to reopen. It’s ironic that when our members need us more than ever, we can’t fund ourselves. EatDenver is in peril just like our restaurants.”

Front Range diners can play a crucial role in ensuring the survival of both their favorite dining establishments and the nonprofit that supports them by going to EatDenver’s website to buy gift cards from participating member restaurants. Lazor stresses that holding on to those gift cards until restaurants reopen is crucial: “Profit margins on takeout and delivery are a lot smaller than those of full-service dining, so waiting to use those gift cards will provide more benefit to the restaurants and show support when they need it the most.”

To buy gift cards for EatDenver member restaurants and have your purchase matched, click here.

EatDenver Member Restaurants

  1. 100% de Agave
  2. 12 @ Madison 
  3. 5280 Burger Bar
  4. Ace Eat Serve
  5. Acorn
  6. Acreage
  7. Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina
  8. Adrift
  9. Aloy Modern Thai
  10. American Elm
  11. American Grind
  12. Angelo’s Taverna
  13. Appaloosa Grill
  14. Ash’Kara 
  15. Atomic Cowboy
  16. Au Feu
  17. Avanti F&B
  18. Avelina
  19. Bacon Social House
  20. Bar Dough
  21. Bar Helix
  22. Barolo Grill
  23. Beast & Bottle
  24. Beatrice & Woodsley
  25. Bigsby’s Folly
  26. Biju’s Little Curry Shop
  27. Biker Jim’s
  28. Billy’s Inn
  29. Birdcall
  30. Bistro Georgette
  31. Bistro Vendôme
  32. Blackbelly Market
  33. Blue Agave Grill
  34. Blue Pan Pizza
  35. Brava! Pizza
  36. Briar Common Brewery & Eatery
  37. Brider
  38. bubu
  39. Butcher’s Bistro
  40. CAFE 180
  41. Cake Crumbs Bakery & Cafe
  42. Cap City Tavern
  43. Carboy Winery
  44. Carmine’s On Penn
  45. Cart-Driver
  46. Centro Mexican Kitchen
  47. Chef Zorba’s Restaurant
  48. Cho77
  49. Chocolate Lab
  50. ChoLon
  51. Chook Charcoal Chicken
  52. Chow Morso
  53. Cirque Kitchen
  54. Citizen Rail
  55. Comida at The Stanley Marketplace
  56. Coohills
  57. Coperta
  58. D Bar Denver
  59. Deep Roots Winery & Bistro
  60. Degree Metropolitan Food & Drink
  61. Denver Biscuit Company
  62. Denver Central Market
  63. Dunbar Kitchen & Taphouse
  64. Duo Restaurant
  65. El Camino Community Tavern
  66. El Five
  67. Ernie’s Bar & Pizza
  68. Famous Philly Cheese Steak & Wings 
  69. Fish N Beer
  70. Flagstaff House
  71. FNG
  72. Four Friends Kitchen
  73. French 75
  74. Freshcraft
  75. Fresh Thymes
  76. Fruition
  77. Gozo
  78. GQUE BBQ
  79. Grabowski’s Pizzeria
  80. Green Russell
  81. Guard and Grace
  82. Happy Bakeshop
  83. Happy Leaf Taproom & Kitchen
  84. Hashtag
  85. Highland Tap & Burger
  86. Homegrown Tap & Dough
  87. Illegal Pete’s
  88. Il Posto
  89. Ivy on 7th
  90. Izakaya Den
  91. Jax
  92. Jovanina’s Broken Italian
  93. Joy Hill
  94. Julep
  95. Kachina Southwestern Grill
  96. Kentucky Inn
  97. Kobe an LoHi
  98. La Cocinita Mexican Restaurant
  99. La Loma
  100. Leña
  101. LeRoux
  102. Leven Deli
  103. Linger
  104. Locanda del Borgo
  105. LoHi SteakBar
  106. Lola Coastal Mexican
  107. Los Chingones
  108. LowDown Brewery + Kitchen
  109. Lowry Beer Garden
  110. Luca
  111. Marco’s Coal-Fired
  112. Masterpiece Deli – LoHi
  113. Max Gill and Grill
  114. Mercantile Dining & Provision
  115. Meta Asian Kitchen
  116. Milk Market
  117. Mizuna
  118. Morin
  119. Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery
  120. Next Door American Eatery
  121. NoNo’s Cafe
  122. North County
  123. Oak at Fourteenth
  124. Ohana Island Kitchen
  125. Old Major
  126. Olive & Finch
  127. Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
  128. Osaka Ramen 
  129. Osteria Marco
  130. Ototo
  131. Palenque Mezcaleria
  132. Panzano
  133. Park & Co.
  134. Park Burger
  135. Piccino Wood Oven Pizza
  136. Piper Inn
  137. Pony Up
  138. Punch Bowl Social
  139. Q House
  140. Que Bueno Suerte
  141. Racines Restaurant
  142. Range
  143. Rebel Bread
  144. Red Square Euro Bistro
  145. Revelry Kitchen
  146. Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
  147. Rioja
  148. River & Woods
  149. Root Down
  150. Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen
  151. Rosenberg’s Kosher
  152. Russell’s Smokehouse
  153. Salt & Grinder
  154. SAME Cafe
  155. Santo
  156. Sarto’s
  157. Señor Bear
  158. Shamane’s Bake Shoppe
  159. Smok
  160. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
  161. Southern Sun Pub and Brewery
  162. Spuntino
  163. Stanley Beer Hall
  164. Steuben’s Food Service
  165. Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs
  166. Stoic & Genuine
  167. Stoney’s Bar and Grill
  168. Stoney’s Uptown
  169. Street Feud
  170. Sun Valley Kitchen
  171. Super Mega Bien
  172. Sushi Den
  173. Sushi-Rama
  174. Tables Restaurant
  175. Tacos Tequila Whiskey
  176. TAG
  177. TAG Burger Bar
  178. Tap & Burger Sloan’s Lake
  179. Tavernetta
  180. Teatulia Tea Bar
  181. The Avenue Grill
  182. The Berkshire
  183. The Bindery
  184. The Budlong Hot Chicken
  185. The Corner Office
  186. The District
  187. The Family Jones Spirit House
  188. The Fort
  189. The Game Lounge
  190. The Goods
  191. The Kitchen
  192. The Lake House Kitchen + Tavern
  193. The Lobby
  194. The Original Little India
  195. The Pig & The Sprout
  196. The Post Brewing Company
  197. The Preservery
  198. The Rackhouse
  199. The Regional
  200. The Rotary
  201. The Universal
  202. The Way Back
  203. The West End Tavern
  204. The Whiskey Biscuit
  205. The Woods
  206. True West Tacos [food truck]
  207. Uncorked Kitchen Wine Bar
  208. Under the Sun Eatery and Pizzeria
  209. Urban Farmer
  210. Vesper Lounge
  211. Vesta
  212. Vine Street Pub & Brewery
  213. Vital Root
  214. Washington Park Grille
  215. Wendell’s
  216. Work & Class
  217. Zolo Southwestern Grill

 

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