Video producer Mariana Novak, with help from tech entrepreneur and restaurant consultant Ted Golden, created Atlanta Food Bingo to drive more business to area restaurants struggling to cope with the financial losses caused by COVID-19. The contact-free, online bingo game challenges players to order takeout and delivery from five area restaurants over a two-week period. Once bingo is achieved, players are entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes, like a chef’s table experience from Local Three or a $150 gift card from Brush Sushi Izakaya.
The first round kicks off today and runs through Monday, April 13.
When Novak moved to Atlanta from California in 2017 to pursue work as an actor within Georgia’s burgeoning film and television industry, she paid the rent by working as a server for a few months at chef Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South in Midtown. She says the friendships she formed there, and throughout Atlanta’s restaurant industry, prompted her to take action to the assist former colleagues and friends caught up in the COVID-19 layoffs.
“As this whole COVID-19 thing started going down, friends in the industry started calling me about losing their jobs and needing help,” Novak says. “I just wanted to do something beyond ordering takeout or donating to fundraisers, and saw people doing bingo for quarantining at home or reading books. I thought bingo might be fun to do for restaurants.”
She quickly developed a bingo card filled with her favorite Atlanta restaurants, and shared it on her Instagram account. Novak also tagged Golden on the post. The card was shared by friends, and friends of friends, more than 100 times. Golden reached out immediately and told Novak he wanted to help take the card to the next level through his connections in the Atlanta restaurant industry.
“When Mariana published her bingo idea online, I knew this was just something that had to move forward,” the Georgia Tech alum says of why he became involved with Atlanta Food Bingo. “The point of this game isn’t anything other than to try and help keep as many Atlanta restaurants going as possible during COVID-19.”
There are currently 144 restaurants and food businesses participating in the bingo game, which are grouped by neighborhood clusters over six cards.
As word spreads of Novak and Golden’s game, more restaurants continue to contact the pair about signing up. Some have offered to provide prizes for the raffle, even though it’s not a requirement to be listed on a card.
Here’s how it works: Players choose a card to play on the Atlanta Food Bingo site. They must spend at least $20 at five restaurants, breweries, or food businesses over two weeks by ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards, or donating to fundraisers. Once bingo is achieved with five restaurants, they submit the information into an online form to be entered into the raffle. Players must save their time-stamped receipts, as it serves as proof of purchase should their name be drawn in the raffle. The first drawing takes place on Thursday, April 16.
Novak and Golden plan to run the game every two weeks (until further notice). If a restaurant on a card temporarily closes, donating $20 to the staff fundraiser or purchasing a gift card still counts as part of the game.
People can follow for updates on Atlanta Food Bingo’s official Instagram account.
Like Novak and Golden, Arnall Golden Gregory lawyer Matthew Wilson has worked with several restaurants around town over the years, and just wanted to help. He donated his time to provide legal counsel to Novak and Golden and crafted the rules and terms and conditions for Atlanta Food Bingo.
“I was determined to find a way to help my friends in the industry in a meaningful way and spread awareness about the places continuing to offer to-go food or where to donated or purchase merchandise.” says Novak. “Many people within the city’s restaurant community have become life-long friends of mine. Watching so many lose their income and their hope is heartbreaking, and I just couldn’t sit back and watch it happen.”
NOTE: The novel coronavirus situation in Georgia is fluid and ongoing. Follow Eater Atlanta for continuing coverage on COVID-19’s impact on Atlanta’s restaurant industry.
Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and twice-daily updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases.
*Practice safe and respectful social distancing measures via CDC guidelines, and stay home if sick.