The Season For Giving: How To Support Restaurants
What can be said about the restaurant industry in 2020 that hasn’t? The restaurant industry has faced unparalleled challenges, largely due to the pandemic that has closed doors to in-house traffic. To put this into perspective, the National Restaurant Association stated that 17% of all U.S. restaurants have permanently closed due to the coronavirus. With the holiday season underway, there are a variety of ways that you can help support restaurants.
There are so many ways to support restaurants that it might be useful to have a few ideas in mind going forward. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this year, many of the items listed below are things that might make great presents to the people in your life, whether that’s an experience for the people you care about or an expression of your generosity in their spirit.
An important plot point in the film A Christmas Story sees the family experience the untimely loss of their pre-planned dinner to comedic catastrophe. The family venture out in search of restaurants that can serve them dinner, a challenge considering so many businesses are traditionally closed at that time of year. Fortunately, the modern world offers so many possible options for off-premise dining.
While ordering out on the weekends makes for a nice treat, consider ordering during the weekdays when many restaurants are traditionally slower. For the holidays, you can order dinner not just for yourself, but for friends and family. Because of the pandemic, the grocery industry has boomed. That means that many people are staying at home to eat, and those people are likely ready for a break in from their routine menu.
Buy Gift Cards
Buying a gift card is a great stocking stuffer and an ideal way to support restaurants today by paying for tomorrow. While many quick-service and fast-casual restaurants are still bringing in a profit, smaller independent restaurants are struggling. If possible, buy local to help support your local economy and business.
Pro-Tip: Tip Big
Tipping is a complicated subject, especially depending on where you are in the world. In the U.S., the tipped minimum wage is common for servers in the restaurant industry. Under the tipped minimum wage, servers make less than the federal standard minimum wage, with the expectation that tipping will provide them with the potential for more than the minimum. If you’re in the U.S. or anywhere else that features gratuities as a standard part of the wage structure, take this opportunity to tip big. Restaurant workers are in harm’s way to provide service in a potentially infectious environment. Tip in person, whether you’re served or not if you can. You might also consider using a virtual tip jar, a donation fund that provides relief to servers and bartenders.
Donate to Relief Funds
Speaking of donation relief funds, there is superlative work out there right now, from Guy Fieri’s efforts to organizations like the LEE Initiative. If you have an opportunity, consider supporting one of these charities, which can help millions of people displaced due to the pandemic. You might even give in the name of a loved one as a holiday treat.
Rock Some Merch
If your favorite restaurant has swag that you might enjoy, buy some for yourself or your friends. Merchandise is a great way to throw a lifeline to businesses struggling with their traditional revenue streams. Beyond that, wearing a shirt that promotes your spot is a great way to help them advertise.
It may seem strange to put the onus of relief on restaurateurs who are currently struggling. Still, there are ways owners and operators can support restaurants through innovation and mutual aid. Let’s look at a few ways that industry insiders have found to help one another.
The idea of subscription services in restaurants is nothing new. A few years ago, Burger King floated the concept of a coffee subscription service at their restaurants, which was met with initial success. While that service was discontinued, it inspired a few other chains to follow suit. Some small restaurateurs have turned to subscription services as an innovative alternative to dine-in traffic in the wake of the pandemic. The idea is simple: offer meals at a discounted rate deliverable throughout the week. It’s a plan that could help during the leaner, winter months.
Who Run Bartertown
For countless years, society was based on bartering goods and services with one another. Bartering is one of the oldest forms of commerce, as it offered a direct relationship between services rendered and rewards. With resources slim and bottom lines tight, some restaurateurs have turned to barter to obtain their base ingredients. It’s a great way to build rapport and community while also saving money.
Co-ops are democratically owned and operated business ventures that utilize multiple shareholders in the stake of the enterprise. The idea of restaurant co-ops is appealing to many, as it decentralizes administrative authority while also spreading out the risk. While not for everyone, the pandemic has caused some restaurateurs to look at co-ops as a means of stabilizing their business during tough times, which could help shift how independent restaurants operate.
Partner With Charitable Organizations
For restaurateurs looking for a novel approach, consider partnering with a charitable operation. There are many to choose from, including some that work with farmers and restaurant workers. You can use these partnerships as part of your cause marketing campaigns, which have proven successful in attracting guests to your restaurant. Furthermore, you can partner with mutually beneficial operations to your own, which helps everyone involved. Remember, charitable donations spike during the holiday season.
For The Powers That Be
A third-party between restaurateurs and guests are the behind the scenes players, from landlords to local government. Owners, operators, and guests are working hard to support restaurants, but they need all the help they can get. Call your local politician and request that restaurant workers get earlier access to vaccines, allowing them a safer return to their profession. If you can help restaurants, you may consider doing so by easing tension on rents and leasing prices during tough times. While that may seem antithetical to the established business model, failure is bad for everyone from an economic standpoint.
Restaurants are doing a lot with a little, which speaks to the resilience of industrial lifers. We all need help now and then, though, and there are so many ways that we can all support restaurants, both together and apart. Consider reaching out to your local favorite to help out and raise spirits. Have any ideas we might have missed? Let us know! We’re always looking for ways to help support restaurants.
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About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. At home, like the rest of the world right now, he’s finding time to play with the kids and create art.