This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

Article Published November 24, 2020

Saybrook Chamber Hopes to Help Keep Restaurants in Business with Raffle

By Aviva Luria/

With the recent statewide spike in COVID-19 cases and the rollback from Phase 3 to Phase 2.1 as of Nov. 6, Connecticut restaurants have been forced to scale back from 75 percent capacity to 50 percent capacity, a move that may result in a loss in revenue that can further threaten these businesses. With its upcoming Great Restaurant Raffle, the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce hopes to help ameliorate the effects of uncertain times.

Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1, raffle tickets will go on sale with a grand prize of 42, $100 gift cards—one for each of the 42 participating local restaurants.

Second prize is a set of $50 gift cards to those same restaurants. Ten, $10 gift cards to a selection of “eateries,” including Ashlawn Farm Coffee, Ben & Jerry’s, and Pursuit of Pastry, will be awarded as third prize.

Raffle tickets are $20 each and may be purchased online or in person at the Chamber’s office at One Main Street.

Sales of the “raffle will cover the costs [of the event] and a portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase additional gift cards to be distributed locally by...Youth & Family Services,” said Judy Sullivan, the chamber’s executive director. “The other portion of the proceeds will go towards the programs and community outreach of the chamber.”

The chamber hopes not only to direct much-needed business to local restaurants, but to boost awareness and local interest in keeping them afloat.

“The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and with the uncertainty of the coming months they need our continued support,” said Sullivan.

The winners will be announced live on Friday, Dec. 18 on the Chamber’s Facebook page and the winners will be notified by telephone.

Recognizing that the continued viability of local restaurants is tenuous, the chamber, on the event’s webpage, advises winners to use the gift cards quickly.

“The pandemic has put so much stress on our local restaurants and shops that some may be forced to close,” it states on the webpage.

The “Chamber of Commerce is not responsible for unused cards to restaurants that close business after the drawing on Dec. 18,” it continues. “If a restaurant closes before the drawing is held, we will substitute another card.”

Vu Nguyen, owner of Saigon City Restaurant on Boston Post Road, is hoping for just enough business to pay his bills and feed his family. The restaurant offers only takeout and Nguyen is helped by his wife and son.

“We try to keep a low profile,” he said. “I envision [this situation going on] only for so long.

“It’s about 35 years we have the business,” he continued. “I’m getting ready to retire.”

While in the past they’ve wanted to boost their business and attract new customers, for the time being, it’s friends and regular customers that are keeping the restaurant going. Nguyen is the sole cook, preparing dishes each evening before opening.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be in this business,” he said. “It’s tough for everyone.”

Raffle tickets may be purchased beginning Dec. 1 and through Wednesday, Dec. 16 online at or in person at the Chamber of Commerce offices at One Main Street.