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One-day program to cover half your dinner bill in Baldwin

Split the Bill initiative aims to support local eateries

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“We got rain out there, we got curfews going into local businesses, but there’s a bright spot here in Baldwin today,” said Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island and Long Island Main Street Alliance.

More than a dozen Baldwin eateries have opted in to a program taking place today called Split the Bill NY, intended to boost local businesses during this challenging time.

The initiative encourages residents to support local restaurants by having them dine in or order out from any of the participating restaurants and then be reimbursed for half of their bill. Nassau County, Town of Hempstead, Baldwin Civic Association, Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Vision Long Island and Long Island Main Street Alliance representatives teamed up to promote the initiative at a news conference at the Baldwin Coach Diner this morning.

Customers can submit a reimbursement form through the Split the Bill NY website confirming purchase of their meal and, within a week, will receive a reimbursement for 50 percent of their restaurant receipt, up to $30 via PayPal or Venmo.

Participating restaurants in Baldwin for the one-day program include Kitty O’Hara’s, the Baldwin Coach Diner, Basil Leaf Grill, Coalhouse Grill, Defrancisco’s, Gino’s Pizzeria, Long Island Bagel Cafe, Lucas Dominican Restaurant, New Old Venice Inn, R.A.J. Mexican Grill, Sonny’s Canal House, Swirl Bliss and The Irish Pub. For the full list, visit the Split the Bill NY website.

The charitable initiative is created and funded by the Sidgmore Family Foundation, a private family foundation that has local roots in Long Island. A total of $100,000 has been allotted for Split the Bill NY to be spread across multiple phases in various towns. There are no fees for restaurants to become involved.

Previous campaigns have taken place in Valley Stream, Farmingdale, Westbury and Hempstead. The campaigns have driven more than $90,000 in total retail spent in local municipalities, according to Jeff Gelbwaks, who conceptualized the initiative with his sister, Randi Sidgmore.

Residents were advised to take photos of their meals and receipts — which must be digitized rather than handwritten — and submit them no later than 11:59 p.m. today.

Karen Montalbano, of the Baldwin Civic Association, who helped promote the initiative, said the list of participating restaurants showcases the diversity of the Baldwin community.

“[Restaurants] have made it easy for us when we were going through difficulties, and now we hope to make it easier for them as we move forward, because, as we know, this is not ending anytime soon,” she said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Every dollar you spend today at any of these restaurants are the dollars that are going to keep these businesses from being boarded up,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. “We are urging the residents: Go out, order dinner tonight, bring it home for your kids, put it in the fridge, put it in the freezer, because these are the dollars that are going to keep them open.”

With so many restrictions in place, including a limited number of people allowed indoors and a curfew of 10 p.m. which begins Friday statewide, Clavin encouraged residents to support their local eateries.

“They’re very concerned that they’re not going to be able to make it through the end of the year,” he said.

“Local restaurants, as you all know, make up the fabric of the community, and right now, they need our help — everyone’s help,” Gelbwaks said. The foundation’s financial commitment to Split the Bill will soon be exhausted, he added, inviting other corporate foundations or family foundations to partner and help continue the effort.

“It is imperative to shop local,” said Erik Mahler, Baldwin Chamber of Commerce president. “A lot of businesses are starving, especially with the additional curfews that have just been placed by the state. Please shop local, please help out the local businesses.”