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Foodies create Restaurant Bingo to support local eateries during new coronavirus rules

Over the past few days, people in the restaurant industry worked with customers to come up with Restaurant Bingo as a way to continue encouraging buying local.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas — Restaurants across Central Texas have been hurting since new rules because of coronavirus went into effect – rules like no more than 10 people gathering in one place, social distancing and closures of dining areas and bars.

"If we go down, honestly, we're not going to be alone," Melissa Day, the director at Malted Grains in Liberty Hill, said. "There's going to be, unfortunately, a lot of businesses that go down, so we won't be alone."

Day and Malted Grains owner Michael Biggs opened the bakery and cafe a little over three years ago. Because of the new rules in place, they only take to-go orders and update their menu on social media every day.

"It's day-by-day," Biggs said. "Yesterday was a really good day. The day before that was pretty good. Today was very slow." 

In Leander, Susie Szymczyk opened Ziggy's Kielbasa House with her husband six months ago.

"I don't think this is something anybody would have predicted or planned for," Szymczyk said.

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Both Malted Grains and Ziggy's have seen fewer and fewer customers since the spread of coronavirus to central Texas. In an effort to continue combating that, members of Facebook group Cedar Park Foodies came together after the group's admin posted about organizing a Restaurant Bingo.

"On a good day, restaurants have razor-thin margins," said Ilde Quintero, who organized the game after seeing something similar in Arlington. "As you can imagine going through this difficult time right now, everyone is struggling to survive, struggling to keep their employees employed, and just pay the rent and pay the bills."

Quintero said the person who formatted the sheet together picked the restaurants at random. The company he works for, Toast, has made an effort to support local, independently owned restaurants over the past few weeks, encouraging people on social media to order out and buy gift cards and use #RallyForRestaurants to spread the word.

"We just really want to show the restaurant community that we care, we're thinking about them and we're doing anything we can to help them," Quintero said.

To play this version of Restaurant Bingo, connect five boxes in a row for bingo. Submit photos or copies of receipts to rallyforrestaurants@gmail.com by April 26 to enter the customer into a drawing to win a $50 gift card donated by Toast and area restaurants.

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