As communities continue to feel the harsh impact of COVID-19, Community Ventures saw an opportunity to help businesses and families during a difficult holiday season. Throughout December, free holiday meals were on the menu for families in the town of Millersburg, KY. Community Ventures distributed more than 1,400 restaurant gift vouchers to Millersburg residents.
“We wanted to feed the whole town, and we wanted people to eat at three different restaurants,” said Kevin Smith, President and CEO of Community Ventures.
For three weeks in December, residents could pick up multiple $10 vouchers for their household at City Hall. They could redeem them at any of the eleven participating restaurants, all of which were locally-owned businesses in Paris, Carlisle, and Cynthiana. The voucher program had the dual purpose of feed families while also giving local food businesses a much-needed boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, following temporary closures to indoor dining.
“It certainly has helped my business during these difficult times. We had almost 60 vouchers redeemed at our restaurant, and the customers really enjoyed it,” says Lee Nguyen, owner of Paradise Cafe, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant in Paris. “We even had people come to our restaurant for the first time because of the vouchers. We are just so, so grateful.”
One of the more popular choices for the vouchers was EZ Riders Pizza. “We got more business from Millersburg in December than we’ve ever had before,” shared Barbara Biddle. She and her husband Jim own the pizza shop, operating since October 2003. “I think it helped people who had never ordered before and were pleased with the food. Several of our customers were so glad to have the coupons. We’ve been swamped with more business than we’ve ever had.”
While residents took advantage of the opportunity to support these local restaurants with many trying new places for the first time, the businesses were grateful to see this kind of community support to end a very difficult year. “This was our Christmas present, not just for my business, but the entire community of Millersburg, and all the business around here,” adds Nguyen. “We’re just lucky to have Community Ventures and Kevin Smith to help us during the hard times. I’m just really thankful.”