Ravi Parakkat, founder of Takeout 25, shows his cards. | Provided by Takeout 25.

Takeout 25 is embracing the spirit of the season by applying its unique approach to supporting restaurants to holiday gift giving. Takeout 25 has created a program to bolster business at local eateries through the winter and a second to show appreciation for hardworking restaurant workers.

“It has been an especially rough year for restaurant workers, but it has also been hard on owners, too,” said Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 founder and an Oak Park village trustee. “These programs help show appreciation for staff members, promote connectivity between restaurants, and encourage the community to support the industry as a whole.”

Takeout 25 is offering “secret Santa” style gift card bundles in various amounts for community members to purchase. Sold in $25, $50, $100, and $250 bundles, the cards will offer a surprise assortment of $25 cards from more 40 participating restaurants in Oak Park, Forest Park, Austin, Berwyn and Elmwood Park. Thanks to the random nature of the bundles, participants may receive cards from restaurants they already know and love or may end up discovering a new place to dine. 

“For each $25 card a restaurant contributes to the pre-sold bundles they will receive $25 in return,” said Parakkat. “People can choose to donate separately to support future Takeout 25 events.”

Visit www.givesignup.org/TicketEvent/TakeoutHolidayGiftCardBundles to make a purchase. Sales close on Friday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. Once purchased, gift cards will be available for pick up on Dec. 19 at Poke Burrito. To date, more than $7,500 in cards have been purchased. Parakkat is clear this first-time effort comes without expectations and considers any outcome to be great for the restaurant community and a learning opportunity for Takeout 25.

Takeout 25 is also using its platform to bring holiday cheer to hardworking restaurant workers. The same local restaurants are coming together to show their appreciation for their staff by pooling gift cards to distribute among local restaurant workers. Connie Ostler Brown, owner of The Brown Cow,  Jimmy Chen, owner of Poke Burrito, and Kristen Alfonsi, co-owner of One Lake Brewing helped to shape the idea and planned its execution.

Community minded businesses like Delivery First ($750), Byline Bank ($500), Guaranteed Rate ($250) are sponsoring the program. The Carleton Hotel has donated a one-night stay to be raffled off to one lucky restaurant worker. Elements Massage and Mend Wellness (Oak Park) have donated massage sessions and Ahimsa Yoga Studio, Magical Minds Studio and Dark Matter Coffee have also made contributions to the effort.

“Everyone involved is really excited,” said Parakkat. “After coming up with the idea, it took just four days to launch the program. It took everyone by surprise, but people are very excited. This is a positive effort that enables the economy in a new innovative way.”

Participating restaurants include:

Anfora Wine Merchants

Amerikas

Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits

Babygold Barbecue

Big Guys Sausage Stand

Billy Bricks – Oak Park

Blackout Baking Co.

Brewpoint Craft – Oak Park

Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor

Buzz Café

Cafe Cubano

Carnivore Oak Park

The Daly Bagel

East Gate Café

Exit Strategy Brewing Company

Gringo & Blondie Taqueria

Happy Apple Pie Shop, LLC

Kalamata Kitchen

Kettlestrings Tavern

Khyber Pass Restaurant

Kribi Coffee Air Roasters

Lathrop House Café

Lavergne’s Tavern

Lunges and Lattes

Massa Cafe Italiano

Media Noche Café

MORA Oak Park

One Lake Brewing

Poke Burrito

Schweet

Scratch on Lake

Scratch Kitchen

Small Batch Barbecue

Spilt Milk

Surf’s Up

Sugar Fix Bakery

Taco Mucho

Tacos ‘76

Trattoria 225 Oak Park

Twisted Cookie

Two Sisters Catering

Victory Italian Oak Park

Whirlwind Coffee Company

Wise Cup

Yum Thai

Innovation award for Takeout 25

Takeout 25 was named the “Most Innovative Pandemic Start up” at the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism held at Navy Pier on Dec. 6. Governor J.B. Pritzker opened the Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner with a speech centered on the perseverance of organizations and businesses across the state.

Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 founder and an Oak Park village trustee accepted the award on behalf of the “entire Takeout 25 family” including local restaurants, sponsors and supporters. He considers the honor “a win for local independently owned businesses and for our community and communities like ours.”

“I had real moment when I saw our logo on the big screen,” said Parakkat. “It was unreal to see Takeout 25 reflected in this way. I never expected to look at the image in that way.”

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