EDMONTON -- To help an industry challenged by COVID-19 restrictions, some extra flavour is being thrown into the mix to encourage Edmontonians to eat and support local.

Eat 124 Street Bingo, is a social media concept derived to inspire people to order take-out and delivery from local establishments.

There are 16 spots on the bingo card and all are participating restaurants on or near 124 Street.

However, the concept didn’t start in Edmonton. It’s actually a borrowed idea from a neighbouring city to the south.

“Stolen with permission from our friends at Empire Provisions in Calgary,” Peter Keith, the co-owner of Meuwly’s Artisan Food Market, laughed.

“I had this idea at two in the morning. I was lying in bed thinking about small business owner problems, as we often do,” Keith explained. “And it just kind of clicked, this would be a great way to get the street united, get some energy going, and get the spotlight on our restaurants.”

After sending an email to a number of local restaurateurs about the bingo initiative, Keith said the response the next morning was overwhelmingly in support.

“Just because we haven’t done it before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it now,” Keith said. “Anything that will support our community, get these restaurants a few extra takeout orders, it’s worth it.”

“It’s really important to have initiative like this especially now 15 months into a pandemic because businesses are burning out,” Krista Franke, founder of 124 Grand Market, added.

While Keith is leading the charge on generating some extra traffic for these businesses, Meuwly’s has faced its own set of hurdles during the pandemic.

“We sell our meat products to a lot of local restaurants, that’s about half of what we do, half of our revenue. That has been a roller coaster this past year.”

“I don’t get the sense that anyone in the food business is really thriving,” he added.

While some restaurants appear busy with the take-out method there’s suddenly new costs associated with that method; packaging, online ordering systems, and credit card processing fees.

“We see them busy, there’s a lineup for takeout and that’s great… that’s just maintaining status quo, that’s just paying their rent,” said Keith. “These businesses need our support now more than ever.”

While many business owners have faced challenges posed by COVID-19, Keith credits the support network of local entrepreneurs and the community for keeping them going.

“Food businesses in Edmonton are very tight knit,” he said.

Keith told CTV News Edmonton, he wants people to get a sense of the “culture of our neighbourhood,” so when the world opens back up, people will continue visiting these local businesses.

“Support the 124 Street restaurants and make sure they’re still here when we’re all through this,” Franke said.

There’s also a bit of incentive for folks who participate in the social media challenge, which includes more than $1,000 in gift cards and a grand prize that’ll be drawn on June 15. ​

Participating 124 Street Businesses Include: Meuwly’s, 124 Grand Market, Northern Chicken, Duchess Bake Shop, Zwick's Pretzels, Numchok Wilai, OEB Breakfast Co. 124th St., Blue Plate Diner, Farrow Sandwiches 124th St., Three Vikings, Remedy Cafe, Woodshed Burgers, Partake, Urban Diner, and Coast Lunch Box Food Truck.

“We just wanted a way to shine a spotlight on that and make it fun and create a bit of extra incentive for folks to support our neighbourhood and tell all their friends about all the amazing food and drinks they’re getting from 124 Street,” said Keith.

Full instructions on how to participate in Eat 124 Street Bingo are on Meuwly’s Instagram page.