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Updated: December 26, 2023

Two months after mass shooting, Lewiston-Auburn campaign aims to lure locals back to restaurants

Image / L-A Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce A contest by the L-A Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce encourages locals to share images of a purchase from a local restaurant, brewery or family-entertainment menu on social media using #LocalLAFlavor.
People birthday Image / L-A Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce The contest will run through Jan. 8.
Food Image / L-A Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Contest participants will be eligible to win a cash prize.

Two months after a deadly mass shooting in Lewiston, the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is seeking to lure locals back to restaurants, breweries and family entertainment venue via a contest on social media.

“Many owners and operators are just starting to see a portion of their customer base return, and their first question is, 'Where are the exits?,’" said Shanna Cox, the chamber’s president and CEO. "While the likelihood of another mass shooting is infinitesimally small, lingering fear is to be expected. This contest encourages people to check on their favorite bartender or server, order takeout or sit down inside again." 

To encourage people to eat out again, the chamber has launched a contest for residents to post an image of a purchase from their favorite hangout on Facebook or Instagram using #LocalLAFlavor. All participants will be eligible to win cash prizes of of $100 (for one winner) or $50 (for two others).

“Let's celebrate our local flavors and demonstrate community support,” the chamber said in its announcement of the contest, which ends on Jan. 8.  The initiative comes on top of Small Business Relief Grants for establishments affected by the Oct. 25 tragedy, funded by $575,000 raised by the chamber as of Dec. 15.

'We needed to show up'

Cox told Mainebiz that the idea for the contest followed conversations with local owners and operators, who found that the impact of the Oct. 25 tragedy was going to last longer than they had originally thought.

“We have a few strategies to grow our food economy, and over the years have had a couple of different campaigns to boost patronage or restaurants,” she said. “There are so many great restaurants, breweries, bars and gathering places in L-A, and the owners were so quick to respond to feed first responders. It was clear we needed to show up for them, too.”

Cox collaborated on the campaign with Meredith Carson, who was the chamber’s marketing director before launching a startup called MC Designs.

“She and I both have spent years in hospitality in our careers, and this came together quickly,” noted Cox, who remains optimistic about restaurants’ ability to bounce back.

“The holidays drive a desire to gather and celebrate, and we are starting to see some increased customer counts,” she said. “This campaign, coupled with our Small Business Relief Grants, will aim to keep people viable while the natural market stabilizes.”

She also told Mainebiz that most businesses seem to be faring well after last week's storm.

As of last Friday, "I haven't heard directly from anyone yet," she said. “Lots of folks had lost revenue from being without power, but it could have been so much worse."

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