TAMPA, Fla. — The city of Tampa is partnering with a local nonprofit to help minority and women-owned restaurants suffering because of the pandemic.

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The initiative called “Saturdays To Go” encourages customers to order takeout from those businesses on Saturdays. It comes at a time when mom-and-pop shops are seeing huge drop-offs in sales.

“Our weekday business has probably been cut in half since the pandemic,” said Florence Gainer, manager of Open Cafe on North 34th in Tampa.

Roberto Torres with the Blind Tiger Cafe said he too is suffering because of the shutdown.

“We’re down 80% across the board,” he said.

Former State Rep. Ed Narain, who came up with idea for the Saturday To Go campaign last month, said it’s already having an impact.

“One of the businesses reported that they tripled their sales from the week before,” Narain said. “Another business reported they were up 50 percent by the midday of that Saturday.”

Customers have posted pictures of their purchased meals on social media along with the “Saturday To Go” hashtag.

“We have individuals coming that had not been coming and didn’t even know about us until they put that media out on social media,” said Gainer.

Torres is hoping this continue overtime.

“It gives us a platform to create relationships to create relationships with new customers that perhaps didn’t know or that we had a minority ownership,” he said.