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Here’s How to Safely Support Your Favorite Local Restaurants

A young man picking up a take-away food order during the coronavirus pandemic.
David Pereiras/Shutterstock

There’s no time like the present to make sure your favorite restaurant is still around after the pandemic. Here are some simple ways you can support your local restaurants so there’s somewhere to enjoy sit-down dining on the other side of this.

Mandated or voluntary, the closure of restaurants and other nonessential hospitality businesses has been a source of financial hardship for the diners, coffee shops, and restaurants that make up the fabric of our communities. Most restaurants survive on razor-thin margins and a constant flow of customers, so anything you can do to help offset the decreased traffic during the pandemic can help keep your favorite places open through it all. Here are some simple ways you can help.

Have a Takeout Day Once a Week

Cooking more at home these days? Lots of us are, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the pleasure of a meal out. Designate one day each week as “takeout day” and choose a local restaurant for dinner or lunch.

And be sure to talk up the experience to your friends and neighbors. Maybe they’re unaware the old Italian place downtown is suddenly very modern with online payment and no-contact food pickup. Spreading the word about good local takeout experiences will encourage other people in your community to support the restaurant too.

Pick It Up or Use Curbside

If you’re purchasing food from a location that’s pickup only, be sure you take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

  • Avoid touching surfaces: Although our understanding of the coronavirus continues to evolve and it is now understood the infection is primarily transmitted through the air, it’s still best to avoid touching surfaces if possible and to sanitize your hands if you do.
  • Order and pay online: Many restaurants offer online ordering and payment, which are the safest methods to avoid close contact with others. Paying in person? Make sure you’re ready to use contactless payment.
  • Social distance: Use curbside pickup whenever possible. If you have to go inside a restaurant to pick up your food, maintain a distance of six feet from others and stay inside the building as briefly as possible.
  • Handle bags and containers safely: Airborne transmission as a primary means of infection or not, the coronavirus can live on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours, so handle those pizza boxes with care. Avoid placing them on the counter, and be sure to wash your hands after you’ve touched any containers.
  • Remove food with washed hands: Once you arrive home, hold the bags or boxes of food and have someone else (if possible) remove the meal with clean hands. Then, discard the boxes immediately and wash those hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Pre-meal handwashing is a good habit anyway, but a particularly important one during a pandemic.

Try a Food Delivery Service

Delivery man hanging a contactless takeout bag on an apartment door handle.

Food delivery services are the way to go, especially during a pandemic. Many are also offering contactless delivery. This means you can pay (and tip) online, and your food will be left on your porch.

Some food delivery services, like Uber Eats, are also waiving delivery fees to help independent and small businesses.

If you’re unsure if a service offers contactless delivery, be sure to ask before you order so you can keep any in-person interaction at a minimum.

Buy a Restaurant Gift Card

You can also purchase gift cards now and use them later. When you start cashing them all in, it’ll feel like you’re always eating for free.

This is an excellent way to help a business when they need it most because as soon as you purchase the card, the restaurant gets the cash. You can also give gift cards for your fave eatery to any friends or family for their birthday to help even more.

Purchase Merchandise

Whether your favorite pub sells its special Bloody-Mary blend, T-shirts, or hats, purchasing any such merchandise is an excellent way to offer your support.

Many steakhouses sell signature steak knives, while breweries and bars often sell beer mugs or shot glasses. Think about what your local cafes, shops, bakeries, and bars sell besides food and drink. Every mug, keychain, or hoodie makes difference.

There’s no better time than now to buy branded glassware or a new T-shirt to lounge in because your purchase will also be helping the community.

Whether you pop in every week to pick up a delicious bag of takeout or you grab some gift cards to enjoy a sit-down steak dinner later this year, there’s never been a better time to show your local restaurants a little love.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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