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April 29, 2021

‘Split the Seafood Bill’ campaign quickly nets $33K for Maine restaurants

fishing boat Courtesy / Gulf of Maine Research Institute The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s “Split the Seafood Bill” campaign benefited both the restaurant and fishing industries. Seen here is South Bristol fishing vessel Nicole Leigh.

A campaign to drive seafood orders at Maine restaurants netted $33,000 in sales from diners over just six days.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland launched “Split the Seafood Bill” as a one-day campaign on Dec. 16, 2020, to bolster sales of seafood during the pandemic. 

After restaurants reported a strong response from customers, GMRI reached out to corporate partners to get funding to continue the program, according to a news release.

Using funding from Hannaford, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, SMRT Inc. and People’s United Bank, with additional support from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation and the Goldie Anna Charitable Trust, Split the Seafood Bill was extended to run on four Thursdays from Feb. 18 to March 11.

GMRI reimbursed half the cost up to $30 of take-out and dine-in meals that included seafood sourced from the Gulf of Maine at any of 24 restaurants participating in the promotion.

“The Split the Seafood Bill campaign was extremely beneficial for Becky’s Diner to be a part of not only for us but also for our customers and the numerous local seafood producers that deliver to us every day,” Becky Rand, owner of Becky’s Diner in Portland, said in the release. 

For diners who participated in Split the Seafood Bill, 90% went out to eat or ordered take-out as a direct result of the promotion, with 50% of diners trying a restaurant for the first time. 

GMRI reimbursed nearly 500 diners with a total of more than $13,000. More than $33,000 in sales went to the restaurants from diners who participated on the days of the promotion.

“Our fishing community and restaurant community have been struggling during the pandemic and Split the Seafood Bill was able to boost sales and provide much needed visibility for both industries,” said Kyle Foley, GMRI’s sustainable seafood program manager.

Roughly two-thirds of seafood is typically consumed in restaurants, and with fewer customers dining out, that has translated to a steep drop in seafood sales. 

Campaign details

• Customers were reimbursed up to $30 when they ordered seafood at a participating location on six separate days through December, February and March.

• Restaurants reported the campaign boosted sales overall and especially sales of seafood.

• Over 500 diners participated.

• 24 restaurants participated from Damariscotta to Portsmouth, N.H.

• The campaign generated direct sales to participating restaurants that were 2.5 times the reimbursements to customers.

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