What will it take to get an NBA superstar to stay with his current team? The group behind Ka’Wine & Dine believe it takes a city – and the best food Toronto has to offer.
As all of Canada cheer for the Toronto Raptors with Kawhi Leonard leading the team, fans can’t help but think of the end of the season. Whether there’s a championship parade or not, will Leonard, a free agent at the end of the year re-sign with the North’s only NBA franchise?
With nothing but speculation to go on, Raptors Republic, the largest independent fan website for the Toronto Raptors and Rethink Canada created Ka’Wine & Dine with the slogan wine’em, dine’em, let’s re-sign’m. With a badge in their windows, Toronto restaurants declare their commitment to provide Leonard with free food for life if he re-signs with the team. The program has since expanded to Uber and Lyft drivers and other businesses, from recording studios to legal and real estate services, free haircuts, clothing and more.
“The reaction has really just been incredible and quite frankly overwhelming,” said Adam Robles, Head of Marketing and Social Media for Raptors Republic.
“From the start, we’ve received an incredible amount of support from businesses and fans within the city. Everyone is talking about it and what’s really cool is we’ve also started to receive support from Raptors fans across Canada and the world wanting to be part of Ka’Wine and Dine.”
Ka’Wine and Dine launched their website and Instagram account just one week ago and has more than 2,000 followers, garnered a shout out tweet from Mayor John Tory and was even featured in one of TNT’s mid-game reports during game 4 on Tuesday.
“I believe that Toronto really just has such a different dynamic from other major cities in the world. Although Toronto is really a big city, we really do support and care for each other,” Robles said.
“Nothing brings people together like sports, and when you combine that with a passionate fanbase like Toronto’s at a time when we’re two games away from going to our first NBA finals, you really have a chance to build something special.”
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Robles says there are businesses being added to the list daily, with business owners able to download the Ka’Wine and Dine badge from the website, he says there are more than 50 restaurants, drivers and businesses from all over the GTA now involved.
“For Kawhi, we really hope he feels the love and support from the Raptors fanbase and when he makes his decision, will feel confident in committing to Toronto long-term and making the city a home for him and his family…For the Raptors fanbase, I hope this really further unites us and brings us closer together as a community. Food is something else that brings people together so hopefully, we can combine it with sports and create something special and everlasting,” Robles said.
While Leonard and the team focused on the games ahead, Raptors fans will continue to build their support around him and the team, Robles said and hopefully Leonard will eventually be able to take advantage of the campaign.
“We understand that Kawhi is a big foodie and with Toronto being arguably the most culturally diverse city in the world, this will really give Kawhi the opportunity to try some amazing food from different cultures and ethnicities,” he said.
“As a Filipino, I would love to see Kawhi get a chance to try some Filipino food and would love to see him try some of my favorites like lumpia, palabok, and longanisa.”