Flint, MI— The value of gift cards purchased at 23 Flint-area restaurants are being doubled, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Consumer’s Energy. 

The electric company teamed up with the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce to establish the Our Town Gift Card Match Program in an effort to boost local food businesses that have struggled to survive the pandemic.

“We’re hoping to give our local restaurant industry a shot in the arm by incentivizing community members to patronize these businesses during what has been a very difficult time,” said Kristina Johnston, COO at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. 

Heath Hoffman, owner of Hoffman’s Deco Deli & Café, said business is down 40% compared to last year. 

The deli received $1,000 in match dollars through the program. “Any little bit helps,” Hoffman said. “The biggest challenge is people working from home now and not in the downtown area…[the lunch rush] was our meal ticket for the day.” 

As part of the program, a customer who purchases a $10 gift card at a participating business will receive a second $10 gift card at no cost. The maximum amount that can be doubled for one customer is $100.

General Manager of Cork on Saginaw Darci Racette said the funds are going fast. 

“I put limitations on ours just so that we could share the love a little bit more,” she said, adding that there’s a one gift card per customer limit and a $50 cap for Cork customers. 

Like Hoffman’s Deli, business at Cork has taken a dive because of the pandemic. Numbers are 50% what they were last year, Racette said. 

“We’ve had to overcome quite a few hurdles or hardships and we’re still standing,” she said. 

A full list of participating restaurants can be viewed here. The program will last until funds run out. 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...