Give locally this holiday season and after — with freshly minted Berkeley Bucks

New electronic gift card is good for dozens of local restaurants and shops in all corners of Berkeley, as well as at entertainment venues and hotels.

Gaumenkitzel on San Pablo Avenue is one of many restaurants that accept Berkeley Bucks. Credit: Visit Berkeley

This story is brought to you by Visit Berkeley, the destination marketing organization for Berkeley.

Berkeley Bucks is a new gift card, designed to spread the holiday cheer to both the recipients and Berkeley businesses. This first-ever citywide gift card launched this month, and is valid at an ever-growing number of Berkeley establishments — currently 70. The mix includes local stores, restaurants, hotels and personal services. Participating merchants are found throughout Berkeley, and many of them offer exclusive discounts to cardholders.

Starting today, the first 100 customers who buy Berkeley Bucks cards valued at $100 or more will receive a $25 bonus card valid through Mar. 1, 2022.

The Ecology Center on San Pablo Ave. accepts Berkeley Bucks. Credit: Visit Berkeley

“Berkeley has a unique mix of local and independent businesses that make this city so vibrant,” said Jeffrey Church, the Visitor and Partner Services manager at Visit Berkeley.  “Berkeley Bucks are designed to keep cash in the community. Now more than ever, it’s important to support local merchants, restaurants and services through the holiday season and well beyond.”

Berkeley Bucks cards make perfect gifts for friends, family, teachers and colleagues.  Treat people to dozens of eateries around town, from Asha for boba tea to Zachary’s for a slice of pizza.  Or give them a fun experience, from live music at the UC Theatre to a performance by the Shotgun Players, or a show at the Berkeley Rep.  Use the card to help a visiting friend or colleague with lodgings at one of several Berkeley hotels.

“I love the idea of Berkeley Bucks! It allows maximum flexibility for the recipient, yet guarantees that the money stays in Berkeley,” said Fern Solomon, proprietor of Fern’s Garden gift shop on upper Solano Avenue. “It is a win-win for all!”

Riva Cucina accepts Berkeley Bucks. Credit: Visit Berkeley

Berkeley Bucks are available for online purchase via Yiftee; credit cards are accepted for payment. No apps, downloads or special technology are required. Initially, Visit Berkeley is covering the service fees.  Berkeley Bucks can be redeemed by the cardholder in person, over the phone or via an online store.   

Local companies can purchase Berkeley Bucks as employee gifts, customer appreciations, contest awards and more. Anna Bellomo, founder/realtor at District Homes bought a supply of the egift cards. “We love Berkeley, and we love Berkeley Bucks! They are a perfect way for us to welcome our clients, who are new Berkeley residents, to the neighborhood. They also are a great way to support our local merchants,” Bellomo said.

Lawrence Grown of Metro Lighting, one of the merchants in the program, agreed. “Berkeley Bucks offer a wonderful opportunity for local corporations to give gifts that benefit the local economy as well as their own employees,” he said.

Merchants can still sign up

There is no fee to Berkeley merchants to participate in Berkeley Bucks.  Berkeley businesses just need to accept Mastercard and opt in to the program. Contact Visit Berkeley’s Jeff Church, jchurch@visitberkeley.com, for more information on how to sign up. 

Jupiter in downtown Berkeley accepts Berkeley Bucks. Credit: Visit Berkeley

Bayer, Berkeley’s largest private-sector employer, is proud to support the Berkeley Bucks initiative. 

Visit Berkeley, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood districts and the Office of Economic Development are working together to continue supporting Berkeley-based businesses and “keep cash in the community” with Berkeley Bucks.  

“Berkeley Chamber is excited to support Berkeley Bucks.  By keeping dollars in the Berkeley economy we can support our small businesses at a time most needed,” said Beth Roessner, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO.

This story is written and paid for by Visit Berkeley, the destination marketing organization for Berkeley.