"It has been a really hard time for restaurants during this pandemic," says Beth Cormack, public relations director for YANA Cast, "and as a D.C.-based creative agency, we live in a city where the hospitality industry is a huge part of the culture here.”

And so the cheekily named Pandemic Pouch Tour came to fruition, running through Oct. 17 and incorporating over 20 local restaurants and watering holes in an effort to drive business to each in a safe and effective way.

To help market the event, YANA Cast tapped Justin Schuble, the founder and content creator for D.C.’s largest (think over 500,000 followers) food-focused Instagram account, @dcfoodporn. Here’s how it works: When an attendee purchases a ticket, they receive a Pandemic Pouch Pack filled with food and beverage tickets (valued at $200) to over 20 local bars and restaurants. In true 2020 fashion, the Pouch Pack also includes a YANA face mask, in addition to challenges to complete along the way such as riddles to solve, haikus to write, and playful photo-ops to post on social media. The kicker? “Since it’s a scavenger hunt, you actually have to figure out which restaurants are participating based on the clue on each restaurant card,” Schuble explains.

The goal of the event on the attendee side is to snag the grand prize (a private chef dinner and cocktail experience with an overnight stay at D.C.’s Yours Truly Hotel). In order to come out on top, participants must post their completion of challenges on Instagram and tag @pandemicpouchtour. “That way we are able to keep track of winners while keeping our audience engagement throughout the month,” Cormack notes. 

Of course, “safety was our top priority when planning The Tour,” Schuble says. “We made sure that all specials were available for both dine-in and carryout. Making the tour a monthlong experience across 20-plus restaurants also avoids large groups of people in the same place at the same time.” Additionally, each restaurant involved must comply with both the city's COVID-19 guidelines which include proper sanitation, distance between tables, and face-mask mandates.