Travel Portland’s “Ticket to Dine” Campaign Encourages People to Eat Downtown

Buy an entrée later this month from a participating restaurant and receive a scratch-off with a potential prize.

FRESH LUNCH: Patrons at a food cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square. (Brian Brose)

Would the chance to win an eight-course dinner at a highly regarded restaurant get you to come downtown? How about tickets to three of the city’s professional sports teams along with a $500 Adidas gift certificate? Perhaps passes to some major attractions in town as part of a staycation at The Nines?

Those are some of the major prizes in Travel Portland’s latest push to drive more people to our city’s core and spend some money to support local businesses.

Ticket to Dine is a relatively straightforward campaign with the promise of big rewards: Customers simply order an entrée at a participating restaurant and receive a scratch-off that could reveal any of the above-mentioned prizes. Unlike the nonprofit’s previous events, this one focused solely on eateries in downtown and Old Town—arguably the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic’s emptying of offices, hotels and entertainment venues.

A recent report confirmed just as much. According to consulting firm ECONorthwest, downtown foot traffic is 41% below what it was in May 2019, and similar-sized cities whose cores have more residential buildings than Portland, which is dominated by multistory buildings dedicated to workspace, saw a quicker, more robust recovery.

Ticket to Dine, then, aims to motivate people to support food carts, cafes and restaurants that have struggled because passers-by simply haven’t reemerged in that part of town. In turn, those folks may be rewarded beyond their meal.

“Portland is known for its incredible food,” Shauna Noah O’Connor, Ticket to Dine organizer, stated in a press release. “In the last few years, however, a lot has changed–restaurants opening, closing, moving locations. Ticket to Dine is an invitation to get people back down to central Portland to rediscover the eateries that make our city so special.”

Grand prizes include:

  • The Ultimate Staycation: One-night stay at The Nines hotel and passes for two to six major attractions in Portland, including the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Zoo, Portland Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Pittock Mansion–plus a $100 gift certificate for the Portland’5 Center for the Arts.
  • The Golden Dining Package: Gift certificates to each of the 40-plus participating Ticket to Dine restaurants, including two tickets to an eight-course, prix fixe dinner at Tercet valued at $300.
  • The BIG Sports Package: One-night stay at the Hotel deLuxe with two tickets to the Portland Timbers, Winterhawks, and Trail Blazers games, plus a $500 Adidas gift card.

Guests can enter the lotto as many times as they like, or as their stomach allows. The campaign runs from March 17 through 26, and you can access a list of the participating restaurants online.

“We’d love to entice people back to downtown Portland for delicious food,” added owner and chef of Mother’s Bistro, Lisa Schroeder. “It’s been a challenging time for restaurant owners, and we’re proud to be part of Ticket to Dine. We look forward to feeding patrons old and new—and maybe even passing out a winning ticket.”

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