In early February, The Local Crowd Monadnock, Culinary Journeys, and Food Connects partnered to launch the Monadnock Restaurant Project, a homegrown stimulus program to help give the local restaurant economy the shot in the arm it needed to get through this winter. In March, Luca's Mediterranean Café recorded the best March in its 20-year history!
We’re thrilled to share more about what this grassroots effort accomplished and how we plan to support an exciting community event called A Taste of Keene Food Festival, taking place on June 5 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Central Square in Keene.
Thanks to 132 supporters, we raised $30,121 through a TLC Monadnock crowdfunding campaign. This community support empowered us to purchase 1,210 gift cards from 51 local restaurants. Thirteen business partners worked to quickly get these gift cards into the hands of their staff and community members, asking them to purchase double what each card was worth.
“These cards were not gifts, but a call to action,” said Luca Paris, owner of Luca's Mediterranean Café and founder of Culinary Journeys. “We anticipate that community members will spend at least twice the amount of what their gift card is worth, doubling the project’s impact by infusing $60,000 to these cash-strapped businesses. The more we spend locally, the more dollars we reinvest in our local economy.”
Our business partners included American House, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Cheshire Medical Center, Home Healthcare, Hospice & Community Services, Keene Fire Department, Mascoma Bank, The Keene Sentinel, Monadnock Broadcasting Group, Monadnock Shopper News, Nanotech, Savings Bank of Walpole, 17ROX, and The Peak.
The project also inspired others to pay it forward to support the local restaurant economy. Businesses such as Aloha Keene, Clark-Mortenson Insurance, Heaven Hair Gallery Salon, Historical Society of Cheshire County, The Insurance Source, Monadnock Food Co-op, Northern Lights Cheerleading, The Richards Group, and others launched their own efforts to support the Monadnock Restaurant Project movement.
A special thank you to 17ROX and Savings Bank of Walpole for providing matching challenges to motivate more people to give to our crowdfunding campaign. We also thank Alexis Chesney, Laura Carbonneau, and Monadnock Food Co-op for offering sponsored rewards during our campaign. These businesses and individuals donated $500 or more to our crowdfunding campaign: Eleanor Briggs, Electronic Imaging Materials, Inc., Patricia Kasal, The Keene Sentinel, Julie & Greg Tewksbury, Northeast Mountain Footwear/Fred's Shoes, Saving Bank of Walpole, Culinary Journeys, and 17ROX (plus other who chose to remain anonymous).
Stay tuned for Monadnock Restaurant Project updates at tlcmonadnock.com/stimulus.
To encourage participation in A Taste of Keene Food Festival on June 5, the Monadnock Restaurant Project will offer participating restaurants a stipend to ensure that these businesses can cover the costs associated with providing delicious offerings during this event. The Keene Young Professionals Network (KYPN) will host this event, with support from the City of Keene and community volunteers.
“What we really need is people coming out and feeling safe visiting these restaurants again,” said organizers from KYPN. “What we can do is provide an outdoor opportunity for the participating restaurants to showcase their dishes and make some money, abide by all local, state, and CDC guidelines, and schedule it when more people will either be vaccinated or feel comfortable attending. We hope to see you there!”
The event includes restaurant stations where local Keene restaurants will provide samples of their popular offerings (you purchase tokens to get the samples you wish to try), a local craft biergarten to sip on a selection of our region's best brews and spirits (21 and over; please bring your ID; you purchase tickets to get the beverages you wish to enjoy), a hot pepper eating contest with cash prizes ($30 to enter, but free to watch), and cooking demos from local and regional chefs in the gazebo throughout the day. Check out all the details, including lists of participating restaurants and breweries at keeneypn.com.
“Downtown merchants will be out on the sidewalks,” said event organizers. “And Keene's Art Walk will be kicking off with events the same day, so wander up and down Main Street between bites and see what's out there.”
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431