Getting the value out of your gift card after a restaurant closes

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

With some businesses uncertain of their future, now is the time to pull out your wallet and go through your gift cards.

But what can you do if the restaurant is already closed?

We are sharing ways to try and hold on to some of the value.

Brenda Edmonds loves a good deal.

“I use coupons; I get deals when I can,” Edmonds said.

So, when her favorite restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes, offered a gift card special. Edmonds jumped at the opportunity, spending a hundred dollars.

“I take my grandchildren there when they come to visit,” Edmonds said.

But, because of COVID-19, the restaurant chain announced it won’t reopen.

“I spent my hard-earned money on this gift card, and they aren’t giving any refunds,” Edmonds said. “So it not only hits the businesses but it’s the small people too.”

According Sweet Tomatoes, “For gift card inquires, refund options are limited at this time. You may be able to dispute the purchase with your bank or your credit card company. Otherwise, there may be an alternative option available through the court in the future.”

David Biron in Estero says his son bought him a $200 gift card to Leopardi’s in south Fort Myers, another restaurant closed for good. And Biron wants that money to go back to his son.

“I’m sure they can use it,” Biron said. “They live up in Massachusetts, and they got hit pretty hard up there, so I just wanna return it.”

That’s another restaurant closed for good.

“I just don’t know how to recoup the money,” Biron said.

But the outcome for Biron was a little different.

Owner Tony Leopardi told us, while they’re out of business and out of money, they’re offering customers refunds. To get a refund, email Heather at Leopardi is also the owner of Cornerstone Builders.

“It’s always a good idea to use gift cards as soon as possible,” said Kimberly Palmer with NerdWallet.

Palmer says if you have a gift card to a business that’s closed up shop to pick up the phone and see if they own anything else.

“There’s a chance you might be out of luck, and the gift card might not be worth anything,” Palmer said. “But there’s no harm in calling to ask, especially if you know it’s part of a broader chain or family group of restaurants.”

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