Map Your Next Meal Out

In April 2020, Eat, Web Exclusive by Jane Porter

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: A new website makes it easy to buy gift cards to your favorite local restaurants…for when life gets back to normal.

It’s hard to do good when you’re forced to stay at home but in Raleigh, and across the county, people are finding ways to support local businesses and the workers that make them what they are.

This week, Seven Ages Design, a Raleigh-based web design and digital marketing studio, launched a new, interactive website, trianglefoodrelief.com, that makes it easy for folks to buy gift cards to their favorite independently-owned restaurants. The website features an interactive map where users can browse Triangle neighborhoods and communities and click on restaurant locations. They’re then linked to a page on the restaurant’s website where they can buy gift cards to use when life returns to normal.

“[The website] is a useful visualization of all local restaurants that have gift cards available as a way to support the business during this time,” says Charles Crossingham, the website’s designer and owner at Seven Ages Design. “[Users] go directly to the restaurant’s gift card pages instead of navigating the web to try and find everything.”

The idea to create the website arose from a conversation Crossingham had with his friend Joe Kown, a former Raleigh resident, cellist for the Avett Brothers and a fixture in Raleigh’s food scene. Kwon recently relocated to Davis, California with his wife, Emily Meineke, for her to start a new job. Far away from home, Kwon says he felt at a loss about how to help his friends in the service industry back in Raleigh.

“It was apparent that the [restaurant industry] was going to take a severe hit from this pandemic,” Kwon wrote in an email to Raleigh Magazine. “On top of that, we were now two fewer sets of boots on the ground to help out in person. My friends in the business needed help and I wasn’t there to assist as much as I’d wanted to.”

So, Kwon says, he and Crossingham (who designed Kwon’s professional website) “came up with this idea to consolidate efforts around helping the industry I love so much,” in Kwon’s words.

Along with its interactive map feature, trianglefoodrelief.com features a link to the Triangle Restaurant Relief Fund that chef Ashley Christensen co-created with the Frankie Lemmon School in order to raise funds for Triangle restaurant workers experiencing wage disruption or layoffs due to coronavirus-based restaurant closures. The website, which doesn’t make a profit itself, currently features more than 60 locally owned restaurants across the Triangle; a link on the website allows users to submit entries for restaurants that aren’t yet listed to be reviewed and posted.

Crossingham says he hopes Triangle residents and visitors will continue to find the website useful long after the pandemic subsides and that it helps spotlight how much chefs and restaurant workers contribute to building a greater community.

“The most impactful thing has been to go through all these brands’ websites to see how many family businesses there are, seeing how, for them, it is about this community, every single one,” says Crossingham. “[Chefs and restaurant owners] wrote that before the coronavirus. It’s an eye opening time for everyone and when you look to your chefs, they had their hearts in the right place this whole time. Joe and I always joke: Chefs are the new rockstars.”

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