Originally appearing: https://patch.com/rhode-island/newport/free-blankets-hand-warmers-help-ri-restaurants-take-it-outside
By: Rachel Nunes
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2020
The leaves are changing and temperatures are dropping in Rhode Island, but Gov. Gina Raimondo and the RI Hospitality Association are doing all they can to “Take It Outside” as long as possible. Last week, the organization kicked off their “Bring Your Own Blanket” campaign by making more than 12,000 blankets, hand warmers and personal protective equipment available to local businesses.
The blankets, meant to keep diners warm during fall outdoor dining, were given to any restaurant that signed up on the association’s website.
“There is a robust national push to extend outdoor dining as long as possible during this pandemic to give our vital restaurant industry a boost,” CEO Dale J. Venturini said. “For those customers who enjoy outdoor dining but don’t love the cooler temperatures, we hope these blankets and additional supplies will encourage them to continue to enjoy al fresco dining well into the fall, and that the extension of the outdoor dining season provides much-needed relief to restaurant operators throughout the state.”
The blankets and hand warmers were bought at a discount through a partnership with Ocean State Job Lot, funding by money from the state’s Take It Outside initiative.
“When the opportunity arose to lend a helping hand to our fellow Rhode Island business owners, we were happy to do so,” said Paul Conforti, Job Lot’s chief marketing officer. “Through our ownership of Red Stripe Restaurant and Mill’s Tavern in Providence, Job Lot has direct ties to the state’s hospitality industry, and we understand the struggle on a very personal level. We’re very proud to partner with RIHA on such a trailblazing initiative and hope that these supplies provide relief to the many restaurant operators who applied to receive them.”
Outdoor heaters were given out through a lottery system, while blankets were given out based on a restaurant’s number of outdoor seats. Hand sanitizer and other PPE were distributed by request.