Branford ‘Help Out, Take Out' Program Supports Restaurants and Residents

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"Help Out, Take Out." That’s the idea behind a new program in Branford that aims to help restaurants and those financially hurt by the pandemic.

At Parthenon Diner in Branford, the seats remain empty as dining-in remains off the table. While they’re still open for takeout, owner John Sousoulas says they’ve seen a nearly 80% drop in sales.

“We’ve been here many years. I’ve never ever gone through something like this,” said Sousoulas. “We’re all trying to do as much as we can with takeout which really just helps pay some of the bills and minimal staff that we have here.”

“This would not be Branford without our restaurants, so it’s really important to find a way to help them,” said Ellen Carucci, a member of the board of directors for the Branford Rotary Club.

The Branford Rotary Club and Branford Counseling & Community Services decided to launch “Help Out, Take Out.” It’s an approach that helps local restaurants and residents who have fallen on hard times because of the coronavirus.

“This is a unique situation where we have a pandemic that just stopped everything in its tracks. And I think that’s part of the problem that we’re seeing is how do we address that,” said Peter Cimino, executive director of Branford Counseling & Community Services.

The Rotary Club has donated $10,000 to kick-start the effort. The money purchases gift cards from restaurants in the area, and those are then donated to residents out of work. Organizers say the 12 restaurants that are part of the soft launch, which started Wednesday, have also donated gift cards.

“These are the times that you can see how a community works, how a great community comes together during these difficult times,” said Sousoulas.

Organizers are now asking for donations to buy more gift cards which in turn helps more people who are struggling day to day.

“We want to keep the people in this town viable, safe. And I think it’s really important that a community comes together, especially when there’s a crisis,” said Cimino.

If you’d like to donate or if you’re a local restaurant that would like to participate, you can reach out to the Rotary Club of Branford.

If you’d like to apply to receive a gift card, click here.

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