As restaurants reeled from the coronavirus pandemic, Zions Bank credit card holders in Grand County forked over nearly $18,000 at local eating establishments, including Milt’s Stop and Eat and Moab Diner, from March 27-May 31, according to a statement from the bank.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis — which forced some restaurants to lay off workers or temporarily close in March — Zions Bank worked quickly to encourage diners to support eating establishments by offering a 10% cash back incentive. Each time customers used their Zions Bank credit card at a restaurant or catering company, they received the bonus.
During the nine-week promotion, cardholders in Utah spent more than $4.1 million eating out, supporting both national chains and mom and pops. Purchases were made on gift cards, drive-thru and carryout orders, and delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats before restaurant dining rooms began to reopen in May, according to Zions Bank.
The effort also put extra dollars in the pockets of consumers. Over the course of the campaign, the bank paid restaurant patrons $410,000 in the form of cash-back bonuses.
“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for local restaurants,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Still, current dining volumes are about 75% of what they were before the pandemic. It’s important that we keep showing up for these restaurants, who literally and figuratively give our neighborhoods their unique flavors and are part of the deep fabric of our communities.”
An estimated 68,000 restaurant workers in Utah lost jobs related to COVID-19 and about half of the state’s restaurants had to temporarily close, according to the National Restaurant Association. In February, before the effects of the pandemic were felt, Utah’s 109,500 restaurant and foodservice employees made up 8% of the state’s workforce.
Along with sustaining individual establishments, restaurant purchases have a multiplier effect in the economy. Every dollar spent at a Utah restaurant infuses nearly $2 into the state’s economy, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Throughout the public health crisis, Zions Bank has supported small businesses and local economies in multiple ways, including through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Paycheck Protection loans approved through Zions Bank will help preserve payrolls for more than 26,000 restaurant workers in Utah and Idaho, according to bank officials.