With many restaurants across the Kitsap Peninsula struggling to keep going and adjusting their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Kitsap Peninsula, the region’s tourist information center, recently came up with Kitsap Bites, an easy-to-navigate website that lists a majority of them.
In an effort to support these restaurants in a time of need, VKP wants to highlight them. Kitsap Bites originally launched in April, just after the pandemic struck, said Brenda Kelley, who does marketing and outreach for VKP.
”On Visit Kitsap’s website, we already have an eat and drink listing and so we migrated a lot of those over. We did some research and added some new ones,” she said.
Location and taste type are the two categories available for searching on the website. When you click on a restaurant, a window pops up with a brief blurb about what they offer and contact information. All restaurants must have an online menu.
“All businesses can advertise for free on Visit Kitsap’s website as well as kitsapbites.com,” Kelley said. “It’s a great free resource tool for all of our local tourist industry partners. Visit Kitsap Peninsula is 100 percent funded by the county and cities and so we want to make sure we are helping all area businesses.”
Kelley said many of the restaurants have been grateful for being supported during these difficult times.
“A lot of places we share on our Facebook as well,” she said. “We get a lot of response from businesses when we share Kitsap Bites or we tag them on social media, things of that nature.”
She said Monica’s Bakery in Silverdale said VKP was the first organization to offer help, which, to a small locally owned businesses, is huge. “They needed everyone to rally around them when things were in such turmoil,” Kelley said.
She said some businesses are adapting and actually doing better than before pandemic restrictions.
“Other places are really struggling … It kind of depends on what their market was previously. If they were already kind of in a to-go mindset sort of business model, then they flourished. If they we’re an upscale sit-down, they had to figure out how to modify and pivot and offer to-go and offer delivery or curbside pickup or family meals,” Kelley said.
She said especially for newcomers to the area the listings are important.
“We still do have people coming to Kitsap County whether it’s for the shipyard or the hospital or traveling,” she said. “That’s how these people are going to find you; they’re not going to see your Facebook post but they are going to find you on these listings.”
Kelley displayed her personal affection helping the community.
“I have always been a huge community-involved person in Kitsap County,” she said. “VKP has also given me the opportunity during COVID to be more of that community person.”
Kelley said it’s important to keep these businesses going.
“People may not realize it, but Kitsap County does draw a lot of tourists, and it really is a key portion to our economy. We have a lot to offer with our almost 400 miles of shoreline. We like to say we are the natural side of Puget Sound – that’s our slogan – and people love it.”
Visit kitsapbites.com for details.