As restaurants reeled from the coronavirus pandemic, Zions Bank credit card holders forked over more than $460,000 at Idaho eating establishments, including Elmer’s Restaurant in Pocatello, from March 27 to May 31.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, which forced some restaurants to lay off workers or temporarily close in March, Zions Bank worked quickly to encourage diners to support eating establishments by offering a 10 percent cash back incentive. Each time customers used their Zions Bank credit card at a restaurant or catering company, they received the attractive bonus.

During the nine-week promotion, cardholders in Idaho and Utah spent nearly $4.8 million eating out, supporting both mom ‘n’ pops and national chains. Purchases were made on gift cards; drive-thru and carry-out orders; and delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats before restaurant dining rooms began to reopen in May.

The effort also put extra dollars in the pockets of consumers. Over the course of the campaign, the bank paid restaurant patrons more than $480,000 in the form of cash back bonuses.

“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for local restaurants,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Still, current dining volumes are about 75 percent of what they were before the pandemic. It’s important that we keep showing up for these restaurants, who literally and figuratively give our neighborhoods their unique flavors and are part of the deep fabric of our communities.”

An estimated 42,000 restaurant workers in Idaho lost jobs related to COVID-19 and about half of the state’s restaurants had to temporarily close, according to the National Restaurant Association. In February 2020, before the effects of the pandemic were felt, Idaho’s 73,200 restaurant and foodservice employees made up 10 percent of the state’s workforce.

Along with sustaining individual establishments, restaurant purchases have a multiplier effect in the economy. Every dollar spent at an Idaho restaurant infuses $1.73 into the state’s economy, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Throughout the public health crisis, Zions Bank has supported small businesses and local economies in multiple ways, including its leadership with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Paycheck Protection Program loans approved through Zions Bank will help preserve payrolls for more than 26,000 restaurant workers in Idaho and Utah.