A few easy ways you can help support your favorite local dining spot.  
Advertisement

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has greatly disrupted American restaurants. Across the country, government has reduced the capacity of restaurants, limiting them to takeout, delivery, and drive-thru service. Most sit-down restaurants aren’t built for this kind of business. Some have stayed open in an effort to make things work, while others have closed. For restaurants, hard times are here now, and hard times will likely last.

Whether you’re someone who eats at restaurants a lot or a little, you’ve likely made some great memories in them. If you want to do your part to ensure that they have a future, there are many ways you can help.

1 Purchase Gift Cards for Future Use.

Many restaurants are selling gift cards now so they have more of a financial anchor to weather the pandemic. Whether you’re looking for a birthday present for someone, hoping to do a good deed, or simply want to buy yourself a future meal, consider investing in a few gift cards from your favorite places to eat.

2 Donate to Your Favorite Restaurant’s Virtual Tip Jar or Crowd-Funded Campaign.

The pandemic’s disruption of the restaurant industry has led to millions of hospitality workers finding themselves without jobs. Many restaurants have been stepping up to assist newly out-of-work staff by creating virtual tip jars or crowd-funded campaigns. If you want to help our waiters, bartenders, dishwashers, and cooks, consider donating.

3 Donate to a Broader Restaurant-Focused Charity.

In recent weeks, expansive efforts to help restaurants have also been launched. The James Beard Foundation has started an initiative called the Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. You can donate. Your donation will go toward assisting small, independent food and beverage operations. You can also donate to organizations like World Central Kitchen, the group captained by chef Jose Andres that feeds the world’s needy in times of crisis. Or you can donate to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which has set up a special relief fund for industry workers affected by the virus. Some donations, of course, will carry tax advantages.

RELATED: 7 Ways You Can Help Others During the Coronavirus Crisis

4 Contact Your Local Representative.

To get as many of our restaurants through this time as possible, we’re going to need government action. Mortgage stays. Tax relief. Measures allowing restaurant owners — who are navigating a notoriously hard business — to survive a period of loss. Write or call your representatives. Let them know restaurants need more than they’re getting. In the end, this is the kind of help that might matter most.

5 Order Takeout or Delivery.

To keep your favorite local restaurants open, consider ordering food from them. Many restaurants still open for takeout or delivery have altered their menus. Some may feature new family meal options that feed two to four people. Others may offer expanded affordable options, say, a new sandwich or burger. Many restaurants have also reduced prices. Picking up dinner from local restaurants curbside one or two nights a week is one way to keep them cooking; many are also offering contact-less delivery services free of charge. Just make sure to follow these safety guidelines when ordering takeout or delivery.

6 Call Directly Rather Than Using Online Ordering.

When you place orders through delivery websites, those websites get some of the money. If you want to ensure that restaurants are seeing all of the money you’re spending, call them and place your order directly.

RELATED: These Are the Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency

7 Consider Adding on a Cocktail, Beer, or Bottle of Wine.

It’s no secret that restaurants make far more on drink than food. In many states, restaurants have been permitted to sell alcohol via takeout during the pandemic. Some restaurants have gotten creative here: batched drinks, specialty cocktail kits, wine deals, beer specials. If you’re stuck inside all weekend and placing a restaurant order, you might as well enjoy a drink or two.

RELATED: Cocktails Over Video Chat Are Helping People Cope—Here's How to Have Your Own Quarantini Happy Hour