TAMPA, Fla. — Many businesses are still struggling to bounce back from the pandemic, especially when it comes to their bottom line.
Roberto Torres, the owner of Cass Street Deli, told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska they still haven't caught up.
"We are still down sales-wise compared to 2019. We are at like 40%," Torres said. "I still think we are not going to be fully back until December of next year. That's my own personal reservation of what I think is going to happen or not."
So, when Torres heard about the Grow on Us campaign launched by Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, he jumped at the chance to team up.
"That's a tremendous shot in the arm for us, especially in this particular location," Torres said. "It allows the opportunity to cross-pollinate to a customer who would've never known or heard about us. And, if we do a really good job that day, let's say it's 300 (people) that 300 times five, that's 1,500 (people). And (if) we do a good job and all those people come, that's kind of like the word of mouth effect, and that's what we are hoping.
The Grow on Us campaign first launched last year during the pandemic. Jared Barr, the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Grow Financial, told Paluska they realized many businesses were still struggling, so they brought it back.
"We can help a business directly that's hurt, and that business can, in turn, pay it forward and help members of the community. So we are essentially cutting them a check for about as much product as they can give away in a day," Barr said. "As a city, as a country, we win, and we lose together we are all very dependent on one another. Per business, we are probably around $5,000 to $10,000. Last year, we distributed about $200,000, and this year we are looking to step that up a bit, probably be $225,000 to $250,000."
Each business will create a Tampa-themed item for the campaign.
"The sandwich that we created since we are a New York stole deli, and we are in Tampa we created a hybrid of both we call it the Reuben Cuban," Torres said.
On July 14, Grow Financial is essentially picking up the tab, ordering 400 to 500 sandwiches, and giving them away to the community. The extra money will help Torres hire more people and grow his business.
"It makes a huge difference," Torres said. "Initiatives like, Grow on Us help us tremendously cause we are going to be able to add breakfast seven days a week to our service."
One new business is profiled each week through September. For a complete list, click here.