“It takes a village and we’re so glad to be in this one” stated a heartfelt online post from The Olde Ship. The family-owned British pub on Harbor Blvd in Fullerton has been around since 1993. The management posted this grateful response to address the support of the “village” they received several weeks ago in an event that highlighted the pub.
That event was due to a new, concerted effort in town to step up and help small Fullerton restaurants affected by closures due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order. An online group made up of citizens looking to help these affected businesses was formed on Facebook, called Fullerton Loves Food. The group has nearly 3,000 members with the intent of creating a “cash mob” at pre-planned spots in our city. Administrators of the group pick 2 restaurants a week (crowdsourcing suggestions from members) to encourage its followers to order takeout on those designated days, Wednesday and Saturday.
This concentrated focus creates a boost in traffic for businesses and allows restaurant owners to plan in advance. Fullerton Loves Food works directly with the business owners to collaborate and provide a little extra marketing, and at the same time introduces the group’s followers to potentially new places around town they’ve never tried before.
It all started on April 1 when local resident Sarah Harmon threw a unique birthday party at the request of her husband Chad, who asked people to celebrate by placing an order at Roll & Grill on Commonwealth, as a show of support for one of his favorite sushi spots. It was estimated that Roll & Grill had a staggering 70 takeout orders from Chad’s birthday when someone posted the question: “What if we did this every week?”
Sarah Harmon sprung into action. The online group was established saying, “Times
are tough right now. But as a community, we are always tougher.”
The group engages with members all week, asking for participants to post photos of their takeout offerings, providing opportunities to win gift cards, and generating debates with such questions as, “Who has the best donuts in Fullerton?” The vibe online is definitely one of positivity and solidarity.
Joining Sarah on the Fullerton Loves Food team of volunteers is Hannah Nossaman and Dave Smits, both of whom reach out and coordinate directly with the staff at these eateries, making sure the event runs smoothly and is well-organized.
Tim Johnson and Kari Thune round out the team, posting online and taking member suggestions into account each week. If you’ve been to any of these events, you may have seen Dave and Tim (in face masks), saying hello, offering help and suggestions, and serving as Fullerton Loves Food “goodwill ambassadors” of sorts.
Fullerton Loves Food participant Suzanne Benet says, “I love supporting some of our favorite small businesses. And they have all been very conscientious about safely preparing our orders and limiting face contact. It’s also been a fun opportunity to try out new venues. I think I ordered enough for five people at Crepes Bonaparte!”
The group has featured these eateries to date: Brownstone Cafe, Let It Brie, Curry Hut, The Bowery, Bourbon Street, Les Amis, Hidalgo’s, The Cellar, Chicana Vegana, Gonzo’s Tacos, Angelo & Vinci’s, Pickled Monk, Crepes Bonaparte, The Olde Ship, Back Alley Bar and Grill.
With the slow re-opening of dine-in services, will the group still feel compelled to show their support? Kari Thune said, “Several of us realized what an epic idea this truly was and we want to keep it running for as long as this crazy pandemic situation pans out.”
Find Fullerton Loves Food on Facebook to join.
For more information, or to inquire about adding your business to the Fullerton Loves Food events, please contact Sarah Harmon: firstname.lastname@example.org.