Ravi Parakkat shows off some of the gift cards available through Takeout 25. Provided

Takeout 25 is embracing the spirit of the season by applying their unique support for restaurants to holiday gift-giving, creating one program to bolster business at local eateries through the winter and a second to show appreciation for hardworking restaurant workers.

“It has been an especially rough year for restaurant workers, but it has also been hard on owners, too,” said Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 founder and Oak Park village trustee. “These programs help show appreciation for staff members, promote connectivity between restaurants, and encourage the community to support the industry as a whole.”

Takeout 25 is now offering secret Santa-style gift card bundles in various amounts for community members to purchase. Sold in $25, $50, $100 and $250 bundles, the cards will offer a surprise assortment of $25 cards from more 40 participating restaurants in Oak Park, Forest Park, Austin, Berwyn and Elmwood Park. Thanks to the random nature of the bundles, participants may receive cards from restaurants they already know and love or may end up discovering a new place to dine. 

“For each $25 card a restaurant contributes to the pre-sold bundles they will receive $25 in return,” said Parakkat. “People can choose to donate separately to support future Takeout 25 events.”

Visit www.givesignup.org/TicketEvent/TakeoutHolidayGiftCardBundles to make a purchase or to view a complete list of participating restaurants. Sales close on Friday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. Once purchased, gift cards will be available for pick up on Dec. 19 at Poke Burrito, 1025 Lake St. in Oak Park.

As of Dec. 13, more than $7,500 in cards had been purchased.

Takeout 25 is also using their platform to bring holiday cheer to hardworking restaurant workers. The same local restaurants are coming together to show their appreciation for their staff by pooling gift cards to distribute among local restaurant workers. Connie Ostler Brown, owner of The Brown Cow; Jimmy Chen, owner of Poke Burrito; and Kristen Alfonsi, co-owner of One Lake Brewing helped to shape the idea and planned its execution.

Businesses like Delivery First ($750), Byline Bank ($500), and Guaranteed Rate ($250) are sponsoring the program. The Carleton Hotel has donated a one-night stay to be raffled off to one lucky restaurant worker. Elements Massage and Mend Wellness (Oak Park) have donated massage sessions, and Ahimsa Yoga Studio, Magical Minds Studio and Dark Matter Coffee have also made contributions to the effort.

“Everyone involved is really excited,” said Parakkat. “After coming up with the idea, it took just four days to launch the program. It took everyone by surprise, but people are very excited. This is a positive effort that enables the economy in a new, innovative way.”

Forest Park restaurants participating in Takeout 25 include The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, Exit Strategy Brewing Co., Kribi Coffee Air Roasters, Lathrop House Café, Scratch Kitchen, Twisted Cookie and Yum Thai.