Stay in the Loop

Game Night Helps Local Restaurants, Breweries

The online game that started in the North Loop–and blew up to include players around the world, last spring– is returning this Saturday night at 7:30. And the timing turned out to be more significant than the organizers realized it would be.

Megan Gaffney and her friend, Angie Avestruz, came up with BIZ-ingo last spring. It’s just like Bingo but with no betting, and it’s a way to get more people to order takeout from restaurants, bars and taprooms struggling under the COVID-19 restrictions. On Fridays and Saturdays, the game cards go out with each takeout or delivery order from participating businesses, and those businesses donate gift cards as prizes. Angie draws the numbers from her basement.

It’s a huge logistical challenge for two people to coordinate and communicate with dozens of different businesses around the metro, and then pull off a live internet broadcast from separate locations, but they decided they had to do it again.

“It’s a big undertaking but it seems small in comparison to the impact we can have, giving people a fun night with something to do, and keeping businesses alive,” said Megan, who co-owns Midnord Empanadas with her husband, Phil. “Even if one or two new customers come in through the door, it makes a difference.”

In their earlier 10-week run of BIZ-ingo, the two women saw an online community forming and loved seeing all the photos and comments.

“There were people sharing pictures of themselves playing, and getting creative with a Zoom call involving their entire apartment complex,” said Angie. “There were people playing overseas, people sending photos of cards from all over the country.”

The two women had already planned to bring the game back this weekend to help restaurants and breweries that had lost their patio business for the season. But with Governor Walz now prohibiting indoor dining and drinking at Minnesota bars and restaurants for four weeks, the need has become even greater to boost the take-out business.

The North Loop businesses taking part in this weekend’s game are Midnord Empanadas and Churros, Darby’s, Smack Shack and Inbound BrewCo.

While plans aren’t finalized, Megan and Angie do hope to keep the game going in future weeks. If a restaurant or brewery owner would like to be included, they can reach out via the game’s Facebook page.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association

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