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“Love Oshkosh” giving incentives to support local restaurants

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 4:39 PM CST
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Back in December, Action 2 News first told you about a survey that found a majority of Wisconsin restaurants struggling in the pandemic. Now one Oshkosh organization is making a push to promote business for its area eateries.

Many restaurants have gotten creative in the pandemic, like Manila Resto in Oshkosh which started up its own delivery service and, more recently, began offering to-go make your own sushi kits.

“One of those things where it’s thinking outside the box in terms of trying to get people to have a little fun at home while having a little bit of a different Manila experience,” said Owner Marlo Ambas.

But Ambas says they are one of many trying to make things work. “All of our restaurants around here I know are doing everything they can to keep guests and staff safe,” said Ambas.

Ambas says they have gotten some tremendous support with their alternative methods, but sales are still down a bit compared to a normal year.

“Restaurants have been very hard hit during the pandemic, certainly very difficult to social distance and to social distance effectively and have a business,” said Visit Oshkosh Executive Director Amy Albright. “If your business model is based on 100 people in the restaurant, you can only have 25, that doesn’t work as well.”

It also makes it hard to host Oshkosh’s restaurant week, which is normally held around this time of year but had to be postponed.

So instead, Love Oshkosh, a Facebook page run by Visit Oshkosh, kick-started a new campaign.

“We really still wanted to talk restaurants and lift up our restaurants, but maybe not in the traditional way we do restaurant week,” said Albright.

People who spend $20 by the end of the month at Oshkosh restaurants will get a pizza cutter, and those who spend $150 by will get an oven mitt and towel.

All items, which have special designs, have been donated by 4imprint, another Oshkosh business that supplies promotional products.

“What’s fun about it is we kind of did this retro look about ‘What’s for dinner? Reservations of course!’ So we’re just kind of having fun with it,” said Albright. “When I can go out to dinner and instead of having to cook and feel good about that, like I’m supporting local business, I’m all about that.”

The timing of the promotion is especially fitting.

“We looked at the end of February as a time when things slow down and, you know, it is obviously very cold out. So it’s a time where businesses need a little bit of a boost,” said Albright.

Ambas agrees the timing fits well, especially to help make up for the lack of a restaurant week.

“That’s always been a big thing for us to have, especially during this time of year. It’s a little bit slower, it’s cold, people are always looking for something to do – football’s done,” said Ambas. “But it’s nice to see that community-ran event and getting the community to come together to support local businesses.”

That support is critical for those trying to make it through.

“I think that’s the idea behind everyone’s minds, you know, just get through this and we can survive anything,” said Ambas. “We’re all in this together, we’re all in the same boat. So we’re doing everything we can to help each other out in whatever way we can.”

People who participate can submit photos of their receipts dated between Feb. 15 – 28 online HERE.

Otherwise, people can email info@visitoshkosh.com or call 920-303-9200 if you have questions or need to submit receipts another way.

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