Tampa Bay Takeout Bingo: Here's to a smart idea

Here at dRTB, we’ve been highlighting great takeout deals in Tampa Bay restaurants as one way of helping them survive this crisis. So we’re very happy to share the news that Brooke Palmer Kuhl, the well-known events planner and restaurant publicist, has come up with an ingenious way for diners to order takeout, have fun and win valuable prizes, too. Inspired by a similar initiative in Orlando, she’s spearheading a game called Tampa Bay Takeout Bingo.

It’s simple: Instead of numbers and B-I-N-G-O, each Takeout Bingo card is a grid of 24 restaurant names, all places that are offering takeout in a specific neighborhood. Eat at every restaurant on the card and keep the receipt to show you ordered food from them between Mar. 30 and May 1, and you can enter into a May 2 drawing for a $250 cash prize sponsored by Jim Henning of Florida Executive Realty (and by Akemi Sue Fisher for the Westchase area). In addition, five winners will be picked at random for gift cards of $25 or more donated by each individual restaurant (the five winners will win three cards each). Kuhl also did cards for 11 restaurant clients and friends, with each grid containing names of dishes you can order at a particular establishment; as with the neighborhoods, the goal is to cover your card by showing you’ve ordered all the dishes shown, and there’ll be cash prizes and gift cards for the winners.

To see and download all the cards, go to tampabaytakeoutbingo.com. To enter, send scans or screenshots of your receipts to tampabaytakeoutbingo@gmail.com.

So far, Kuhl has created neighborhood cards for Seminole Heights; Hyde Park + Palma Ceia; Westshore/Gandy/Dale Mabry; Downtown Tampa/Davis Islands/Ybor; St. Petersburg; Westchase/Oldsmar; and Trinity/New Port Richey (sponsored by FUEL4 Events). She’s also working on a card for the University Town Center area of Sarasota. And the idea is taking off: She’s gotten requests to do cards from restaurants as far away as Jacksonville, but she’s trying to stay Tampa Bay-centric (though she will provide templates at cost).

This has been a labor of love for Kuhl and her company, RSBP Event Planning and Public Relations. “I’m not making any money on this,” she says. “It’s just because I think restaurants can use the help.”

The project grew very fast. She heard about the idea on Saturday, contacted the Orlando graphic designer who came up with the concept on Sunday, and by Monday she was announcing it on Facebook, complete with cards created with the help of Debra Bellanti Creative, Tethered Creative, and American Marketing & Mailing Services, Inc..

But the fact that Kuhl took charge and made things happen in a hurry is no surprise. Known for her association with the Laxer family of restaurants, including Bern’s, Haven and Elevage, she’s also the mastermind behind the biggest Bern’s event of  the year, Winefest.

That event, like so many others, was cancelled this year. That was a heartbreaker, but Kuhl is looking at this current crisis as a potential learning experience for restaurants. She knows from her research for the Bingo project — she’s looked into 192 restaurants so far — that many of them are way behind in conveying their message via social media, so this period could prompt them to up their game.

The takeout-only requirement also represents an opportunity for diners — a reason to try a restaurant they’ve never tried before, or a chance to sample the cuisine at a high-end spot for considerably lower prices than usual.

That’s true at Bern’s, says Kuhl. “Our offerings are much more affordable than if you were dining in the restaurant.”

But the shift from dine-in to takeout has not been easy.

“Operationally it’s extremely challenging,” she says. “Bern’s had never done takeout. In 72 hours we had to figure it out.”