It’s no secret that restaurants are going through unprecedented tough times this year. But with stay-at-home orders and life as we know it completely flipped on its head, it’s getting tougher and tougher to support them this December.
All the more reason we need to.
I’m here to tell you, even the smallest support is going to make the biggest difference for the landscape of your community this year.
Even just $10 spent at a few different restaurants this month will have a huge impact.
But maybe for a reason not everyone realizes.
In my conversations, meetings, and interactions with restaurateurs (and many business owners from all fields) it’s becoming clear that what will help more than anything this holiday season is a lift in morale and a sign of encouragement.
No, most restaurants won’t be able to pay their rent by selling takeout dinners.
Whether or not they stay in business over the next few months will depend on negotiations with landlords, compromises with local governments, potential bailouts, necessary layoffs, and intense creativity, hard work, and innovations to adapt to new rules while still bringing in revenue.
But the impact your small little purchase will have this holiday season is in showing these hardworking small business people that the good fight is worth continuing.
All the wrong people are seriously considering giving up right now. They are at rock bottom. Far too many creative, always hustling, and often truly compassionate individuals, folks who are used to dedicating well over 40 hours a week to provide for their customers or staff … are asking themselves this question:
“When do I just decide to give up?”
Some are asking it because they literally are going bankrupt. Others because they are thinking about using what savings they have to move onto something else, a new phase in life without all the stress of keeping their restaurant open. Whatever the circumstances, most local restaurateurs are asking that question. And they shouldn’t be.
They need you. They need me. They need us.
They need us to remind them that for every crazy obstacle thrown at them, they have ten people who appreciate them and want them to remain.
Here are some ideas of how you can support them. Don’t shy away if you think your contributions are small. They are impactful. They will give hope during a time where all seems hopeless:
Takeout: Can you and your household treat this holiday season like normal? If going out to dinner followed by attending a holiday event would have been your norm this weekend, can you get takeout instead? If you used to go out to eat twice a month, can you get takeout three times a month? Dedicating yourself to supporting local is not easy right now, but constantly remind yourself that basically EVERY restaurant is hoping you’ll place an order tonight!
Cocktails To-Go: Most restaurants with a bar are doing seasonal and classic cocktails to go this month. Can you dedicate a Friday or Saturday night to “going out for drinks” by picking them up to-go? They are sure to be tastier than what’s in your fridge at home!
Merchandise: Most local businesses have shirts, hats, or masks, or something! It means a lot to them if you spend the $25-$30 and sport their logo around town. Always a great investment because they last for years! It’s also one of the best gifts you can give! Pick someone you love and give them a shirt from their favorite spot around town.
Catering: Do you usually throw a big party or company get-together? Can you still cater from a local restaurant for a zoom meeting? Everyone eating the same boxed lunch or dinner during a holiday zoom party will give an added sense of togetherness and also help keep alive the classic Christmas party tradition in the hospitality industry.
Pick It Up Yourself: If convenient and safe, pick up the food yourself! The restaurant makes a lot more money when you order from them directly rather than using a delivery service like DoorDash or Postmates.
What’s Their Specialty? Can you think of a few of your favorite restaurants and imagine something unique they have that you love? Maybe a dressing, sauce, or salsa? Maybe a dessert? Can you place a bulk order this December and use their products in combination with your home cooked meals? Homemade pasta with a local restaurant’s sauce? Yum. Do they have anything bottled that would make a great gift?
Local Market: Many restaurants are selling wholesale food and especially beer and wine to-go during their shutdowns. Most of these items are heavily discounted because they just want to get rid of inventory and/or they only have one employee working so they don’t need to charge as much. Support those who are being creative and giving discounts!
Gift Cards: They make a great gift to your loved ones or yourself! Restaurants are struggling so much right now they would gladly trade the extra cash now, for products in 2021 when they’re doing a little better. Earmark your gifts this season to make sure your friends and family support local!
Holiday Meals: Most of our holiday traditions look different this year anyway. Since the whole extended family isn’t gathering anyway, can you replace your traditional holiday home-cooked dinner with an alternative from a local restaurant?
Publicize Local: Make it known that you want your gift to be from a local business this year. If your family usually gets you gifts from Amazon, Target, or Best Buy, they may feel they’re letting you down by giving you a restaurant T-shirt. Let them know that this year, since you guys haven’t eaten out as much, you’d prefer to skip the gadget or accessory and support small this year.
Order A Side: Never think your order is too small. Even if all you can afford is a side of fries to go with the cheap frozen burger patties you have, that is better than nothing for a local restaurant.
Donate Compliments: When ordering or picking up food this December make sure you tell whoever is working how much you appreciate their establishment. Good will can go a long way. Many of the employees who remain with a job this December are managers and owners themselves. Give them encouragement to weather this storm and we can all hope for a prosperous 2021!