Over 100 Queens restaurants to take part in rewards program that promotes upcoming Hard Rock Hotel in Willets Point

Emoji Burger in Jackson Heights is among the Queens restaurants participating in the CommUNITY Passport Program.
Photo courtesy of Jarvis Fernandez

More than 100 Queens restaurants have signed on to the CommUNITY Passport Program, an initiative meant to support local restaurants by encouraging people to spend rewards points at these businesses that they will receive from staying at the Hard Rock Hotel set to come to Willets Point. The development of the hotel is expected to be part of the proposed Metropolitan Park plan, which would transform 50 acres of asphalt around Citi Field into a sports and entertainment complex.

In addition to encouraging and enabling guests to use reward points at these Queens partnering small businesses and restaurants, the CommUNITY Passport Program will feature these partnering small businesses in a “Queens Guide,” made available to all guests of the hotel. Free marketing and promotional materials will be offered to the partnering small businesses, including signage to advertise participation in the program. Partnering businesses will be provided with a device or software to accept the points as payment.  The partners will also be reimbursed for the amount of charges paid with points.

“The millions of Hard Rock fans across the globe will have another reward added to their perks of being a UNITY member: the ability to use their loyalty membership to explore the rich history, diversity and energy of Queens,” Hard Rock International Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hook said. “This program not only allows us to bring additional revenue to Queens business owners, but it allows a deep integration with the surrounding community around the proposed Metropolitan Park.”

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International plan to invest $8 billion to transform the parking lots. The plan also aims to deliver a renovated and accessible mass transit station, more than 15,000 jobs and 20 acres of new park space.

“The community made it clear that any development must work with, support and help grow local businesses and restaurants. We listened. The Community Passport initiative will encourage hotel and entertainment guests to explore Queens – driving business to local restaurants and businesses,” Cohen said. “Our message is simple: come for a show or some fun at Metropolitan Park, and fall in love with all of Queens.”

This program is set to launch at the same time as the new Hard Rock Hotel location in Metropolitan Park opens. Small businesses and restaurant owners in Queens that may be interested in the CommUNITY Passport Program can learn more and sign up at www.MetropolitanPark.com/passport.

Among the Queens businesses that have already signed on for this program are “Moon Cheese” in East Elmhurst, “Pio Pio,” “Cositas Ricas,” “El Budare Cafe” and “Emoji Burger” in Jackson Heights and “Mojitos” in Corona.

“Marketing is one of our biggest expenses. The Community Passport program is going to give restaurants like Pio Pio a major, free platform to advertise – and to guests who are already in Queens and looking for a great meal and a great time,” Pio Pio owner Juan Inga said.

“Everyone loves getting rewards for having a good time. With Metropolitan Park, guests are going to come out to see a music concert and then be rewarded to explore Queens,” Emoji Burger owner Jarvis Fernandez said. “That’s going to mean more business for us and other businesses in our community.”