Candy and Noel Jaimes worried about how to keep their restaurant afloat as the coronavirus pandemic took hold last spring.
They own the Red Barn Bar-B-Que, a well-known Colleyville eatery that opened 15 years ago, but they and other businesses faced an uncertain future in March and April when the pandemic brought on stay-at-home orders and restrictions affecting restaurants and other businesses.
“We went into this pandemic, and we were trying to get everything in order. We wanted to be as safe as we could,” Candy Jaimes said.
“We closed our doors, doing pickup only,” she said.
Jaimes said the restaurant opened for customers to dine in three weeks ago.
Jaimes and other business owners welcomed the financial help from Colleyville after the city launched the second round of its To-Go Gift card program where Colleyville residents could redeem them at local restaurants, shops and other businesses.
Assistant City Manager Adrienne Lothery said Colleyville also received the excellence in economic development award earlier this month from the International Economic Development Council for the To-Go Gift Card program which was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over 20,000 gift cards were redeemed, and Colleyville reimbursed each business for the gift cards residents used to purchase food and other items. The city reinvested over $440,000 into the community,” Lothery said.
Lothery said funds for the gift cards came from Colleyville’s Tax Increment Finance district (TIF) where funds can be used for economic development purposes. The TIF district includes most of the commercial areas in the city, with the Colleyville Boulevard corridor making up the largest component, Lothery said.
The revenue for the TIF comes from property taxes related to the growth in value of the commercial properties within the boundaries. Residential property taxes don’t go toward funding the TIF, she said.
Every household in the city received a $35 gift card and could redeem them at many Colleyville businesses.
Jaimes said the gift cards proved to be a lifeline for the restaurant and for her employees.
Andrea and Stefania Bertozzi, who own Loveria Café, said the gift cards were helpful to the restaurant and to employees.
“We can confirm and say that this (the gift cards) was a successful idea,” Andrea Bertozzi said.
“It created a great sense of community. It was a campaign supporting each other during a very hard time,” he said. Bertozzi said he didn’t have to let any employees go because of the support from his customers.
Bertozzi and his wife opened Loveria in 2017 and described his customers as “picky but loyal” as many travel to Europe and Italy, and they are accustomed to authentic Italian food, he said.
Phil Tullis, who opened THE Cajun Market in June, said the gift cards are an innovative way to give back. “I compliment the city’s thinking on the gift cards” Tullis said. “Colleyville has been super supportive of us,”.
Tullis, who sells homemade gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun delicacies made from family recipes, said people often come in to