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Kent County challenges residents to order local takeout with new initiative.

The #KCTakeoutChallenge encourages supporting locally owned restaurants during a challenging time.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kent County has launched a new initiative to encourage ordering takeout from locally owned restaurants. It's called the Kent County Takeout Challenge, and prompts residents to share a photo or video of their takeout meal on social media, then challenge some of their friends to do the same. 

Do not forget to use the hashtag: #KCTakeoutChallenge. 

"We're all busy, we all are going to get takeout anyway, let's hashtag it," said Mandy Bolter, Chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners, "Let's take a photo, and if we each challenge our friends, I think that we can help really promote our local restaurants."

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Bolter came up with the idea, drawing a similarity to other viral challenges, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge. She hopes the social media aspect of ordering takeout will help restaurants that may be struggling with takeout-only orders. She kicked off the challenge with a video on Facebook, featuring herself ordering takeout from Noto's Old World Italian Dining.

"I think that we've all had a challenging year, right?" said Bolter, "But restaurants especially are just seeing up to 25 percent of permanent shut down. You're seeing the unemployment rate skyrocket from all those employees, and what a terrible time to have that happen right around the holidays."

To see a compiled list of locally owned, Kent County restaurants, click here.

When Josh Glazier, the general manager of the Blue Dog Tavern on the Westside of Grand Rapids, saw the challenge, he thought it was a great idea. 

Credit: 13 OYS
Blue Dog Tavern offers a sandwich and growler for $16.

 "It’s super important for us to still have people come in from our community," said Glazier, "To see these people still coming in and supporting, not only the restaurant, but our staff. Our servers right now are hurting. It’s difficult. It’s really good to see people come together to support local, do local, and keep everything in West Grand Rapids."

Glazier said Blue Dog Tavern and other establishments are "hesitant and nervous" about what the future holds for businesses like this. Takeout is their main source of income right now, but that was not the case pre-pandemic. 

"Right now, as a restaurant, everything is very murky," said Glazier, "We don’t know what it’s going to be like next week with the potential extension in place, or if we can have guests back in."

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He said Blue Dog Tavern, as well as other restaurants, are reimagining how to do takeout orders. They offer take-and-bake style breakfast casseroles and to-go beer growlers and cocktails. 

 One of the pillars of the challenge is recirculating money back into the local economy. 

"Your restaurants, they're the ones sponsoring your t-ball teams," said Bolter, "They're the ones helping cater your events and they're your neighbors, they're your friends. No one wants to see them suffer economically. People come from all over the state to go to Kent County restaurants. So, you know, it's a big issue for tourism too. And and we just need to get them through this."

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