Vouchers to save eateries

Person slicing red onion.
Person slicing red onion.

Buying an online voucher for your favourite coffee shop, restaurant or cafe in Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands could save it from going under.

Many small businesses have been forced to close their doors during the lockdown and a new initiative by Hilton-based Temple Wisdom Online aims to help them keep their doors open when it is finally lifted.

“Restaurants have loads of fixed costs: rent, labour, loan repayments, insurance, supplies, repairs — the list goes on,” said Brendan Temple.

“Even successful restaurants have slim margins of three to five percent and a third have struggled to pay employees at least once. The enforced isolation will keep regular customers at home, which could tip the balance into bankruptcy.”

To try and stop local businesses closing their doors, his company has created the online site, Pay It Foodward, a directory of restaurants, coffee shops, food services and beauty and home decor services that offer online vouchers. The idea is that patrons buy a voucher, priced from R30, which they can redeem when the lockdown is lifted or donate to a rescue fund, which is being monitored by chartered accountant Dave Prentice from David Prentice & Associates.

Since launch on Saturday, over R25 000 has been raised in voucher sales and donations. Temple said the idea had been well received by both businesses and the wider community.

“We started Pay It Foodward out of necessity because the idea of all these places closing was just unthinkable [and] we really believe it has the legs to grow,” said Temple.

Driving the initiative is the company’s social media expert, Carmen Barends, who came up with the idea.

She read about a similar scheme online and thought it could work well in the Midlands.

Among the 60 businesses which have already signed up are Cafe Tatham, the Howick Hospice Preloved Shop, Station Stop in Hilton, Artisan Cafe, Crossways, Coffeeberry Cafe, Taste of Thai and The Black Olive Restaurant. To get involved, check out the Facebook page: PayItFoodward.

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