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Mystic Grill owners use Kickstarter for marketing

COVINGTON — “Vampire Diaries” fans could dine at the Mystic Grill later this month. Owners of the restaurant are using Kickstarter.com, a fundraising website, to market the soon-to-open restaurant and generate tourism traffic for the city.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston, who is an owner of the Mystic Grill, said Friday the restaurant in downtown Covington is scheduled to open before the end of January.

“We’re trying to keep the opening date quiet, but it’ll be in January,” Johnston said.

Johnston and his wife Kelley partnered with Angie and John Beszborn, owners of Bullritos in Covington, to open the restaurant at the former law office that has been used as a facade for a cafe in filming of “The Vampire Diaries” television series.

In an effort to raise support and visibility for the restaurant, the owners decided to begin a fundraising project on www.Kickstarter.com.

The website allows a project creator to set a funding goal and deadline. If the project reaches its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.

Angie Beszborn created “The Mystic Grill is becoming a reality!” Kickstarter project on Dec. 30, setting a $30,000 goal to be reached by Jan. 29.

“From my understanding, Kickstarter is a way to raise extra money, but is also a marketing strategy to get people excited about the restaurant,” Johnston said.

Beszborn said the purpose of creating the online fundraising project was more about tourism.

“It’s a perfect venue to promote Covington, not just the restaurant. I’m on the tourism advisory committee and that’s how I found out about Kickstarter,” Beszborn said. “We went to Eastside High School’s drama department, filmed a ‘Vampire Diaries’ spoof and put that on the website to involve the community but also draw people into the city.”

As of Monday, the project received support from 26 backers, with funds at $960. There are 15 more days to reach the $30,000 goal.

The pledges offered on the Mystic Grill Kickstarter page range from $5 to $1,000 with incentives included.

According to the website, the pledges are as follows:

• $5 or more – “a great big ‘THANK YOU’ for bringing Mystic Grill to life!”

• $10 or more – “Your name on our supporter list proudly displayed at the Mystic Grill.”

• $20 or more – “A specially designed bracelet that reads ‘Come be one of us.’”

• $50 or more – “A specially designed T-shirt that reads ‘Because of me the Mystic Grill is REAL.’”

• $100 or more – “A Mystic Grill T-shirt, hat, and your name on the supporter list. Choice of staff T-shirt or ‘Because of me the Mystic Grill is REAL’ shirt.”

• $1,000 or more – “Exclusive dining experience on rooftop deck (weather permitting) of Mystic Grill for four. A four-course meal prepared especially for you and your guests. You will also have a private tour of the downtown square by one of the owners with photo opportunities in ‘Mystic Falls.’ Each person will receive a special gift to remember your night. You can contact the Mystic Grill to schedule your unique dining experience. Times may vary and we will do the best we can to schedule you at your convenience. (Transportation to Mystic Grill not provided).”

As of Monday, there was one backer pledging $5 or more, 10 backers for $10 or more, seven backers for $20 or more, two for $50 or more, and six for $100 or more.

No one had pledged $1,000 or more.

According to the project’s web page the money “is going to launch us out of the starting gate at full speed. Everything from paint and stain to silverware, napkins, and glasses will benefit from your contributions.”

“We’re so excited to open the restaurant. It’s been a long time coming and I think it’ll be a great thing for Covington,” Beszborn said. “It’s a beautiful restaurant and it’s not just for ‘Vampire Diaries’ fans, but anyone in the community.”