How to Help Your Favorite Restaurants Through the COVID Closures

Show your mom-and-pops that you’re there for them—just like they’ve always been for you.

By Anna Hirschorn

Published on March 24, 2020

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, restaurants across the country have been mandated to close (some even put their staff’s and community’s health first, closing prior to the mandates). In an industry with high overhead costs and perishable inventory, restaurants can be pushed to bankruptcy by a single bad week; the reality is that many spots that have closed for COVID might not reopen.

Restaurants are essential to our social fabric: they’re where we catch up with friends we haven’t seen in months, treat ourselves after a long week at work, celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. Help preserve your local independent businesses by supporting them in one of these ways:

1. Order Takeout and Delivery

The most immediate—and enjoyable!—way to support your favorite restaurants is by just eating their food. Most places are offering contactless delivery, meaning your food is left in a specified place, helping protect you and the delivery person. If you have the means, pump up your tab by adding sides, baked goods, desserts, or even a to-go cocktail (quart of margaritas, anyone?). And if possible...

2. ...Don’t Use Delivery Apps

Ordering directly from a restaurant is a far better move than using food delivery apps. Why? Though convenient for us, those apps charge the restaurants a variety of fees, like a “marketing fee” to be listed on their platform, or delivery and processing fees. While many of these apps are proclaiming “relief programs,” it’s questionable what sort of relief they’re actually providing. Uber Eats, for example, has waived their fees for customers, yet is still charging restaurants. Grubhub has offered to defer up to $100 million in some fees for restaurants, but plans to reclaim this money later (and is still charging other fees). Restaurants will not be receiving your full support unless you order directly through them.

3. Buy Gift Cards

Here’s an idea we love: get a group of friends together to buy big gift cards and plan reunion dinners for when it’s safe to do so. Rally for Restaurants has compiled a list of restaurants nationwide that are offering gift cards and will donate $1 to restaurant relief funds for every social media post.

4. Order Swag and Products Online

Since you’ve been wearing the same hoodie and old tee for the last five days, grab a new one (or hat, tote, or koozie) from your local spot’s online store. Many stores also sell housemade relishes, jams, and hot sauces online—an easy way to upgrade your home cooking and support restaurants.

5. Donate to Virtual Tip Jars and Relief Funds

Many restaurants have set up Venmo-fueled virtual tip jars and GoFundMe’s to pay their employees through the mandatory closures. Check your favorites’ websites and social media for details and send your favorite bartenders and baristas a few bucks. Or donate to a relief fund that distributes aid to restaurants and workers on a larger scope; you can find a comprehensive list here.

6. Call Your Politicians

Although every bit helps, tee shirts and takeout are not enough to bail out our restaurants. They need help from the federal and state governments; call your senators and representatives and ask for restaurants to be a part of the federal stimulus plan.

7. Use Your Voice

Share a photo of your new swag on Instagram. Post a recipe with the jam you ordered. And if that local spot where you get breakfast every morning or meet friends for a drink doesn’t have takeout or hasn’t set up a virtual tip jar, call them or DM them on Instagram and ask how you can help!

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