SCARBOROUGH — With many businesses forced to cut back on staff and hours, Scarborough Buy Local is organizing ways to keep the community afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to support local restaurants, Scarborough Buy Local is offering 10 percent off gift cards, or $5 off a $50 card, at restaurants listed on its Facebook page, said Vice President Leroy Crockett.

Many restaurants are switching to delivery and curbside pickup, he said. Other types of businesses may be able to continue operating through the web conferencing program Zoom.

Right now, the organization is trying to get the word out about its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ScarboroughBuyLocal/, with frequent updates about where one can do business in Scarborough. Ideas about how to support local businesses are always welcome, Crockett said.

“If people have an idea to help the business community, we’re all about supporting the community and getting everyone through this,” he said. “Hopefully as many of us as possible can get through this. I think that’s what organizations like us are for, basically, is to support the community.”

The situation has been “detrimental” to Nonesuch River Brewing, said co-owner Jeff Gambardella, in terms of both staff members who have been temporarily laid off and percentage of sales.

While Nonesuch River Brewing has been taking online orders, serving customers via curbside pickup, he said, the restaurant has gone from 44 staff members down to eight.

“We’ve had great support from community and have had to-go beer and food, but it’s not enough to cover costs,” he said.

He said that Scarborough Buy Local reached out to the restaurant immediately with the gift card idea. A few customers have also reached out to purchase a card, which is buy now, pay later.

“I’d like to thank the community for the current support,” said Gambardella. “It’s been a hard time for everybody. Seeing regulars come in or pull up their car and continue to buy food has made us all smile.”

Nonesuch River Brewing is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, open Wednesdays through Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m.

Gambardella said that the menu has been altered a bit to accommodate for the takeout style. Those interested can check out nonesuchriverbrewing.com.

“As soon we get the green light to open, I will rehire every one of my staff, and I’m still paying their health benefits,” he said. “We’ve had some of the best teams and it would hurt to lose any of them. That’s the biggest concern is to see if we could rehire staff.”

On March 27, Scarborough Buy Local announced on Facebook that Nonesuch River Brewing is offering a free pint with every to-go curbside order.

Food and drink establishments are the only ones to find ways to stay open and benefit from Scarborough Buy Local.

A more recently opened business on Route 1 in Scarborough, Ji-Beh Martial Arts, has moved over to Zoom for online classes, said owner Randy Kafka.

He’s been teaching Monday through Friday, and classes have adapted because instructors understand that many students may not have equipment in their homes.

“We know people are in their homes so we just modify certain things,” he said. “One of my instructors is using a towel instead of a bow staff.”

Ji-Beh Martial Arts, with one location in Limerick, opened in Scarborough at the beginning of 2020, said Kafka.

“I took the full month of December to get this ready and then (the coronavirus) happened,” he said. “Not a good time to open a new business.”

A board member of Scarborough Buy Local, who occupies the same rental space as Ji-Beh, approached Kafka asking if he’d like to provide a $25 gift card, he said.

“Scarborough Buy local has really been very helpful,” he added.

Many of the national events and tournaments that Kafka had planned on participating in through his business have been cancelled, he said, but he is thankful that Zoom is there to allow lessons to continue.

“I would say having access to technology is very useful to allow us to maintain business,” he said. “We’d all be stuck in our homes like it was a long hurricane otherwise. Tech allows us to do something we wouldn’t have been able to do before. That would be one of the good things is that we do have the technology to adapt.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how things look from the other side,” he added.

Scarborough Buy Local’s Facebook page offers informative links and restaurant as well as other local business information and hours. The organization held a social media contest, where customers shared pictures with the hashtag “scarboroughbuylocalchallenge” for a chance to win a gift card.

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