6 Great Ways to Support Restaurants Right Now

Wear some cool merch or plan a future date night to support your favorite spots.

April 07, 2020
2016 San Diego Restaurant Guide

Restaurant: Basic
Dish: Mashed Potato Pizza

2016 San Diego Restaurant Guide Restaurant: Basic Dish: Mashed Potato Pizza

Photo by: Mandy Schaffer

Mandy Schaffer

With near-nationwide orders to close business and discourage gatherings, restaurants aren’t able to open their doors and serve hungry diners. But restaurants are the places we celebrate our most cherished memories and now, more than ever, is an important time to support them. Here are six ways to do so.

Order Takeout, Delivery or Curbside Pickup

If you are in a state where takeout and delivery are allowed, you can continue to enjoy favorite dishes and satisfy cravings, while also supporting businesses. When possible, ordering directly from the restaurants is best — besides eliminating fees from third-party delivery services, ordering directly from restaurants will let you know of changes to the usual menu and specials restaurants are offering, including selling wines and pre-mixed cocktails. Every Tuesday for the foreseeable future, The Great American Takeout is helping to spread the word through social media, different companies are donating to restaurant-employee relief funds when people post about it on social media. Visit the website Dining at a Distance to see which restaurants are doing takeout, curbside and delivery in 70 cities across the country.

Donate to a Fund

With the vast majority of restaurant workers out of work, many industry leaders and organizations have set up initiatives to support their own. Guy Fieri has partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to provide one-time, $500 grants to restaurant employees in need who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Many independent restaurants and restaurant groups are raising money on their own for employees. Check out your favorite restaurant and throw them a virtual tip! You can likely find links to restaurants' GoFundMe pages on their Instagram or Facebook. Or check out fundraisers from places like Spare Room in Hollywood, selling Mad Libs to support their workers.

Buy Their Swag

Restaurants have always had sweet swag, and now is the ideal time to proudly purchase some merch in support. Go to the sites for your favorite coffee shops, sandwich spots and oyster bars. If you want more inspiration, the team behind Flavour Gallery (which produces shirts for many of the big food festivals) has launched Restaurant Merch, a site where restaurants across the country – Pubbelly in Miami, Johnny Sanchez in NOLA, Sweet Cheeks Q in Boston, to name a few — can sell shirts and bring in revenue. Many local restaurants are still selling their own swag and you can score some pretty sweet stuff like these tiki glasses from Three Dots and a Dash to whip up your own cocktails that look just as fancy as straight from the tiki bar. In Venice, California, the team behind Gjusta and Gjelina sells beautiful handmade ceramic bowls, mugs and plates to change up your home dining routine.

Pick Up Provisions

Many restaurants have shifted to becoming grocery stores helping supply people with staples to cook at home. Chicago’s Bar Biscay has converted to Bodega Biscay, selling everything from take-and-bake cookie dough to butter. In Los Angeles, the founder of Coolhaus, an ice cream company, has launched the L.A. Bodega on Wheels, selling provisions from local businesses and necessities across the city. Bien Cuit Bakery in Brooklyn has partnered with Joe Coffee to create Borough Provisions, selling pastries and caffeine. Shewolf in Detroit is now Mercato Shewolf with fresh pastas, vinegars and olive oils and ready-to-grill meat. Even California Pizza Kitchen is getting in on the market idea. Now is a great time to buy bread from your local bakery, coffee from your favorite local roaster, even beer from a local brewery.

Take a Virtual Class

Many restaurants are sharing their skills in the virtual world and supplying all of the ingredients you need. Skype with the chefs at Austin’s Italian restaurant Intero, and you can pick up the supplies you need at the restaurant. New York’s Murray’s Cheese will send along what you need for virtual cheeseboard and pairings classes. Chicago’s Ina Mae Tavern has had success with their classes based around New Orleans classics like gumbo, crawfish Monicas, shrimp and grits and hurricanes — with kits you can get curbside at the restaurant.

Buy Gift Cards

A simple way to help restaurants now is to buy gift cards for later. Many are offering access to special newsletters, discounts on gift cards, or thank you gifts if you support them by buying gift cards now for use later. It’s something to look forward to once your favorite places open their dining rooms again.

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