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Bellevue teen creates unique way to support struggling restaurants during pandemic

Sophie Sajnani, a high school student, has created Bellevue Bites. It's a website to help support local restaurants by offering discounts for call-in orders.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Trying to keep a small business afloat during the pandemic isn’t necessarily "kid stuff." But that didn’t stop a teenager from Bellevue from doing her part to help the struggling restaurants in her neighborhood.  

Sophie Sajnani is an incoming Sophomore at Newport High School and decided to use some of her skills to make a difference from home. She developed and coded a website to help support local restaurants by offering discounts for call-in orders. 

Sophie is uniquely qualified for this effort because she started a small business herself in Junior High.  

Taschen Bags has been in business for a few years now and Sophie said, "I know how important even one customer is so that’s where I get my compassion to help these local businesses."  

Sophie's website, Bellevue Bites, quickly attracted a couple of dozen restaurants and was successful enough that she expanded to Seattle and other cities outside the state.  

"If this can work here in Bellevue and Seattle there’s no reason it can’t work in most cities," she said.

Bellevue Bites is also preparing to host a summer street fair on August 8 from 12-2 p.m. on Capitol Hill and the $15 ticket price goes directly back to the participating restaurants.

Cinnaholic is one of the restaurants serving up bites next weekend and owner Maysaa Abouhamze told KING 5, "I’m very inspired by her [Sophie] and wanted to be a part of her event. I actually read about her before she called and was excited to hear from her."

Abouhamze owns several small businesses. "It's been really hard. We’ve had to get creative and think outside the box. None of us have experience running a small business during a pandemic," said Abouhamze.

The tickets for the Bellevue Bites street fair are on sale. People interested can access them here.

"Participants can walk through the area at their own pace and pick up something yummy at each restaurant in a socially distanced manner," said Sophie. 

Participating restaurants include Cinnaholic Seattle, Biang Biang Noodles, Drip Tea, Vitality Bowls and WODO macarons.