The Hustle

In tough times, restaurants roll out a new investment opportunity: ‘Dining bonds’

Restaurants are grouping together to offer “dining bonds” -- AKA discounted gift cards -- in order to help generate enough cash flow to weather the crisis.


March 18, 2020

Gift cards — which offer much-needed liquidity to small businesses — are a good way for consumers to help out cash-strapped companies during the dining shutdown.

But a growing number of restaurants think “dining bonds” could be an even better way, and they’re banding together to sell them to customers.

Dining bonds are just like government bonds

Would-be diners buy a restaurant-issued bond for a discounted rate (usually 25% less), and then redeem it after a predetermined amount of time (typically 30-60 days) for a greater amount. 

So, for example, a buyer might purchase a bond from their favorite taqueria for $75 and then redeem it for $100 worth of burritos in 3 months.

The restaurant biz is working together to sell these bad boys

A group of New York restaurants launched a website called SupportRestaurants.org that is dedicated to the sale of dining bonds.

As of yesterday, the website had already attracted 142 partner restaurants to its platform (hungry readers can find a map of the restaurants, which are located across the US, here).

SupportRestaurants.org is a non-profit that does not collect fees from its partners. Participating restaurants set their own terms for the sale and redemption of these bonds (if you own or work at a restaurant and want to get involved, go here).

And the model could work for other industries, too

One site, called HelpMainStreet, offers consumers an interactive list of local businesses that are still selling gift cards.

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