I have been on the search to find various ways to help out local restaurants in hopes that these businesses will be able to weather the storm, and survive through the affects of COVID-19. Personally, it’s hard to see institutions and business owners struggle and close since they play a huge role in creating a culture for an area and contribute to the local economy. Chefs and bartenders make delicious food and drink for us to eat, drink and experience – as much as I’d like to create these dishes or drinks at home, it just isn’t the same.
In obsessing over how we can help independent restaurants without spending all of my personal money, I’ve began to compile a small list of resources and ways to support. This isn’t comprehensive – not even close – but it’s a starting point.
The reality is that it cannot be one person alone – it requires both community and government efforts. However, there are actions we can all take to help!
Organizations Looking For Help in Taking Action (Beyond $$$)
Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) – Started by some big names like Andrew Zimmern, Tom Coliccio, José Andrés and Naomi Pomeroy, this group Is trying to establish a $120B Independent Stabilization Fund and fix the PPP.
How to help: One of the best ways to help is actually to use their very easy widget to send a letter to your local congressman in support of their proposal.
Send Chinatown Love – With a very small percentage of Chinatown restaurants open, this organization is focused on helping Chinatown restaurants go digital and raise funds for these businesses.
How to help: If you know any Chinese restaurant owners that don’t have a website and need help, want to volunteer your skills or partner with them, please reach out.
Businesses Selling Things Whose Proceeds Go Directly to Restaurants
Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) – They’re dedicated to providing financial aid for NYC restaurant workers through a partnership with Robin Hood. They’re selling shirts, a digital cookbook from NYC’s top chefs, and more. Check out their Instagram for the latest merch.
DrinkHaus – The idea was originally to create a line of aperitifs, and has evolved into having a set of aperitifs in collaboration with specific restaurants – 100% of profits go to these restaurants to support their employees and cover costs. You prepay for these bottles and the restaurant gets the proceeds immediately. Collaborations include Rich Table, Mister JIu’s, and Momofuku.
Things to Do When Ordering Food
After hearing about how high GrubHub fees are where it leaves the restaurant with very little to gain has made me think twice about ordering food using digital means. These are my personal considerations when ordering out:
1. Call, text, or DM – unless the restaurant specifies that they can only accept orders through a specific online service, I will call them to place an order. This gets around any specific fees incurred for the business in using an app.
2. Tack on tip – given that these people are putting themselves at risk while sanitizing to keep customers safe, there are many costs in ensuring this is all happening with masks, cleaners, etc. Tip them when possible and if you’re financially capable of doing so. I’ve been taking on ~20% and rounding up.
3. Say thank you – arguably this should be the case no matter in COVID times or not, it’s a particularly important time to display gratitude towards these people who are doing their best to give you the tasty and delicious food. It goes a long way for them!
If there are other organizations and ways of helping you think are missing here, please leave a comment or reach out to me directly! Stay safe and healthy, and consider supporting your local restaurant in these ways!