BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is looking to help local businesses by providing an incentive for customers to buy gift cards.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants that could switch to curbside take out and delivery have done so. For many, however, the past few weeks have not been easy.

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“Honestly they’ve been rough. Where we’re seeing 10 to 15 percent of the sales we would usually do,” Andrew Cole, of Between 2 Buns, said.

In an effort to help struggling local businesses, the Downtown Partnership has launched a new initiative called #CurbsideBaltimore.

“It’s an attempt to do a couple (of) things. One, to help put an infusion of cash into downtown restaurants, and it also provides incentives for residence, residents and people to come out and give back,” Shelonda Stokes, the group’s interim president, said.

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The partnership is kicking in $10 for every $20 gift card customers buy, giving them $30 to spend at participating shops and restaurants.

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“That is so helpful that Downtown Partnership is working with us and working with small businesses to support them, Keyia Yalcim, of Fishnet, said.

There are currently 25 downtown businesses participating, including six at the Mount Vernon Market Place.

Will Glass, the owner of Taps Fill Station, said these gift cards will help him continue to pay his employees.

“We’re actually paying our staff their average hours through this disaster and hoping every little bit counts,” Glass said.

If the initiative does its job, these fine establishments will be here ready to open when the restrictions are lifted.

To buy the gift card, go to curbsidebaltimore.com.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher