Downtown Dearborn Supports Restaurants with Pick-Up Pledge During COVID-19 Shutdowns
As the new year was about to begin in 2021 on a very somber note for restaurants across Michigan with a state mandated closure, the Dearborn Downtown Development Authorities (DDDAs) and Dearborn Restaurant Week (DRW) committee again was evaluating how businesses were going to survive this second wave of closures, let alone whether Dearborn Restaurant Week could even happen in March.
Annually since 2016, the DDDAs secure sponsors and participating restaurants in a Dearborn Restaurant Week with over 30 businesses promoting the culinary treasure that is Dearborn. Within a week of the state mandate being announced, the DDDAs and DRW Committee shifted gears and put together a plan for the Dearborn Restaurant Week PickUp Pledge campaign that promoted all 50+ restaurants in the district, one of the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, restaurants would pay a participation fee in DRW, but the DDDAs generously committed its funding instead to alleviate the hardship felt by many. The campaign encouraged residents and fans of Dearborn to resolve to take the pledge from January 22-31 and commit to ordering carry-out and curbside pickup services to support local bars and restaurants as opposed to online or app services. While online or app services that offer delivery from restaurants to homes are convenient, they are expensive for businesses, do not contribute much support for the restaurants who utilize them, and in many cases cost the restaurant negatively to operate. By keeping it local, restaurants benefited by minimizing fees and costs associated with delivery services that restaurants absorb.
To get the word out, Downtown Dearborn committed $10,000 in social media advertising and reached over 1.6 million impressions and over 14,000 engagements. The Pickup Pledge took over the Dearborn Restaurant Week website and eblasts to over 3500 consumers directing patrons to an easy access business listing and menus. The DDDAs also invested in over $4,000 in TV and radio ads, as well as the community benefited from in-kind promotions on the local community cable TV and newspapers. Coupled with the DDDAs’ previous investment in temporary curbside pickup zone signage and the City’s reduction in parking enforcement, the campaign seamlessly connected people to businesses. Local businesses saw a spike in sales and deeper growth of awareness of supporting local business.
Because of Downtown Dearborn’s actions and return on investment, the DDDA and Dearborn Restaurant Week Committee was recognized with a Michigan Downtown Association award for Best Promotion & Marketing Program in 2021 for the Downtown Dearborn Pick-Up Pledge.