After a steady stream of local media attention including spots on WGN radio and news segments on Fox 32 and NBC5, Takeout 25 Oak Park is starting to draw interest from coast-to-coast. 

The relentlessly positive movement urging residents to spend $25 per week on Oak Park carryout fare is now being replicated in Palo Alto, California and Sunnyside in Queens, New York with additional interest from Evanston and Aurora as well as Arlington, Texas.

“I really feel like a proud father. It is in its early days still and we are still taking baby steps, but I am happy to help anyone along this journey by sharing our experiences,” said Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 Oak Park organizer and also a candidate for Oak Park village trustee in the April election. “I wish them all the best and hope this will be wildly successful nationally.”

When Parakkat crunched the numbers to help local Oak Park restaurants survive the COVID winter on the horizon he was not sure his simple formula would resonate with residents.

Parakkat created a mathematical formula designed to encourage community members to help local restaurants survive the pandemic winter ahead. He assumed $10,000 in monthly expenses for each of the 100 restaurants in Oak Park — meaning the Oak Park community would need to generate a million dollars a month in restaurant takeout business to help keep restaurants afloat. Parakkat was initially looking for 10,000 Oak Park households to spend $25 each a week or $100 each a month on local restaurants this winter to hit that critical million dollars.

“We always had an ambitious goal, but I wasn’t sure if it was achievable,” said Parakkat. “Ultimately this is about households and people are spending more on average than the $25 weekly pledge.”

Thanks in part to a formalized partnership with River Forest and organic support from neighboring communities, the Takeout 25 Oak Park Facebook page is gaining approximately 1,000 members per week and currently has more than 4,000 members. Members share photos of meals, speak positively about their carryout experiences, and make inquiries when they are looking to satiate a specific mealtime craving thus diversifying their ordering options. 

And restaurants are feeling the Takeout 25 effect.

In a video posted to the page Anthony Miniscalco, co-owner of Tre Sorelle Ristorante, 1111 Lake St., expressed gratitude to Takeout 25 members saying, “I just wanted to say thank you so much. It means the world to me and my employees and it has been a lot of fun to meet all the new customers.” Miniscalco went on to offer a wine special and free gelato samples to Takeout 25 members.

Jimmy Chen, owner of Poke Burrito, 1025 Lake St., credits Takeout 25 with being able to rehire staff members at his Oak Park location. In a post to the Facebook page with a photo of six employees Chen said:

“My staff wants to thank Takeout 25 Oak Park. Half of them are getting rehired back to Poke Burrito Oak Park. You don’t know how much everyone taking action means to them.”

Amy Parakkat, Ravi’s wife, is responsible for restaurant outreach and much of the PR that brought media attention to Takeout 25. Oak Park residents and volunteers, Melanie Sabelka and Jayson Franklin, also played key roles in getting Takeout 25 off the ground. Sabelka created the pledge setup and manages the Google restaurant finder within the group. Franklin helped build the website and started and helps oversee the Facebook group. Both Sabelka and Franklin are already working with the Parakkats to brace for the long months ahead.

“With the December holidays everyone is in a mode to celebrate, but once we cross into the new year, we know our next hurdle will be keeping the momentum for the first three months of 2021,” said Parakkat. “We are consciously expanding our base through collaboration and brainstorming programs to help keep momentum going.”

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