Home » #SaveRestaurants: How to Eat Local During Quarantine
There are three easy ways to help your favorite restaurants weather COVID-19
The world is collectively waiting for the day when it can unshutter its windows and venture outside again. For instance, Saturday brunches, lunch al fresco at a favorite cafe, dinner and drinks at a neighborhood hangout, doing your part to eat local — all activities that were once taken somewhat for granted but have now become the wistful desires of an isolated society.
Under the current CDC recommendations and state-imposed quarantine laws, many restaurants have been forced to close. In short, switch from dine-in establishments to carry-out restaurants — some at virtually a day’s notice.
Those that couldn’t easily pivot their operations have been forced to fire staff and shut their doors. To date, over seven million restaurant workers have been laid off and forced to apply for unemployment. Moreover, that number continues to climb by the day.
While diners may not be able to gather around tables in person, they can still support local restaurants and food service workers to ensure their economic survival during the current public health crisis.
Eat local — to go
The restaurant industry employs over sixteen million Americans. It’s an industry that isn’t designed to weather devastating financial storms. It relies on the patronage of loyal diners or operations simply cease.
One of the easiest ways for consumers to save local restaurants is to make it a point to regularly order takeout from those that are still open (and over-tip the staff that are still serving customers).
Think through how often you typically eat out. For example, you might eat out for a lunch or two, and one or two evenings a week. Not to mention that happy hour, where you enjoy a drink and appetizers. Consequently, if you still have a steady income, consider ordering from your favorite spots just as often as you normally would.
Tasty food will lift your spirits while ensuring mom-and-pop restaurants can pay their hard-working teams.
Donate to relief funds
Another tangible way to support struggling food service workers is by donating to relief funds like the James Beard Foundation’s Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund, which supplies micro-grants to independent food and beverage establishments.
Organizations and individuals of all backgrounds are banding together to help the restaurant industry survive the COVID-19 crisis. For instance, Feed Media, a Denver area food and beverage service public relations firm, is using its social media platform to garner support for local restaurants.
“Restaurants and their team members need our help,” the firm state. “These are the people who have created memorable experiences for us, whether celebrating a special occasion, catching up with a loved one, or simply feeding our souls with a warm homemade meal.”
Great American Takeout
The firm offers advice and avenues for support to struggling establishments and their employees and promotes events like “The Great American Takeout,” which took place March 24 to encourage Americans to “eat local” by ordering takeout from their favorite restaurant.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is another group that has emerged out of the COVID-19 crisis. Founded on the belief that “there is power to affect legislative change if we unite our voice,” the organization was formed by “hundreds of chefs and independent restaurant owners from across the country who have built a grassroots movement in just days to secure vital protections for restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
The group welcomes restaurant owners, employees, and concerned patrons and offers an avenue to speak to lawmakers and lobby for more industry support, briefings on current legislation, social media activist toolkits, and more.
The movement was bolstered by the passage of the CARES Act. But, they said, it’s just a start.
“We’re grateful for this relief, but it is by no means the solution,” the IRC wrote on its Instagram page. “It is a lifeline to keep our restaurants afloat for now, but we need more if we want to reopen our doors. Our movement is just getting started.”
It’s up to every citizen to join the movement — even if just in the smallest of ways — to ensure that local restaurants survive the crisis and open their doors to a grateful world of diners once again.