St Johns Bites started in 2019 as a passport event to engage our many wonderful restaurants, food trucks, bars, and other food & drink related businesses with the St Johns community. Participants could pick up passports at local businesses and try different specials, and get a passport stamp for each one that they completed. The passports could then be turned in to be entered in a drawing to win a prize. We worked with local artist Alshiref Design to come up with some marketing artwork that was a clever play on his design for our banners. Three lucky winners received gift cards!
With 2020 came the Coronavirus pandemic, and with it new safety precautions that did not allow for indoor dining or any activity that could spread potentially the virus. Our food and drink businesses quickly pivoted to create menus more suited to curbside pickup and delivery. We knew we wanted to support them so we decided to do the event again, but as an online Instagram contest, open to all businesses within our boundaries. Participants just had to post a public Instagram photo showing their food or drink, tag the business and use the hashtag #stjohnsbites.
Because we did not spend money printing passports, we decided to put this money back into the district by purchasing 12 $50 gift cards from the businesses in the winning photos. Another upside of this was that no matter if a photo won or not, the community did some great marketing for the businesses and got to try some new places and share their experiences! The community spirit of support and sharing meals together virtually was truly uplifting.
In 2021 we have committed to doing this event twice, once in April/May, and once in September/October. As the seasons change, it will be fun to see all of the dishes and drinks that our neighborhood has to offer!
We are able to host St. Johns Bites thanks to being a part of Venture Portland’s Catalytic Investment Initiative and sponsors from our membership.
If you are interested in being a sponsor or volunteer for St Johns Bites, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.