As more and more restaurants close their doors to the public in face of the growing coronavirus epidemic, it’s tough to find any bright spots amidst all the troubling news. At times like this, though, I think back to a famous quote from Mister Rogers: “When I was a boy and I’d see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
That certainly holds true today. While most the news out of the food sector centers around restaurant closures, staff layoffs, and increasing anxiety over an uncertain future, there are several businesses and communities rallying around their local restaurants. These are not only great resources for restaurants who are facing never-before-seen obstacles, they’re great reminders of how we all can band together to support our local restaurants.
Rally for Restaurants
Toast, a popular POS system, created Rally for Restaurants, a website dedicated to supporting local restaurants through gift certificate sales. Since restaurants can use the profits from the sale immediately, gift certificates are great way to infuse cash into your favorite restaurants so they can stay afloat as they adapt to meet this new challenge.
Rally for Restaurants implores patrons to “Give themselves something to look forward to while giving restaurants a chance.” Their website quickly directs visitors to restaurants in their zip code selling gift certificates, and it encourages them to spread the Rally for Restaurants message by challenging their friends to purchase gift certificates as well.
MustHaveMenus, an online template tool for restaurants, drew from their decade-plus experience working with restaurants and interviews with industry professionals to put together a “Coronavirus Response Kit for Restaurants.” It includes free resources and guides to help restaurants navigate this uncertain and rapidly-changing crisis.
The kit includes articles on how you can quickly and efficiently transition your business model from dine-in service to takeout and delivery, along with flyer and signage templates to help ease the transition. They also have free social media posts you can share to your Facebook and Instagram account to communicate urgent messaging, such as sudden closures and shortened hours, with your followers.
National Restaurant Association
In the era of fake news, trustworthy news sources have never been more important. With all the misinformation floating around, on social media and through public officials, restaurants need accurate information as soon as its available. There’s too much at stake to be working from a false information source.
Their “Coronavirus Information and Resources” page remains an invaluable source of verified news and information for restaurants. Not only have they compiled all the most up-to–date news and resources into a single space, but they condense the need-to-know information into easily-digestible information packets (available in both English and Spanish).
If you’re looking to cut through the noise and find the essential information you need to know, the Association has become a leading voice and can’t miss resource for restaurants..
Uber Eats waives delivery fees
Uber, the ride-sharing app more commonly associated with negative headlines, has taken steps to show its solidarity with the community and support its restaurant partners. Their third-party delivery service, Uber Eats, announced that they were suspending delivery charges for 100,000 restaurants across the country. Typically, delivery fees from delivery services force restaurants to work on razor-thin margins, so the suspension of those fees will help smooth the transition for restaurants as they transition to delivery-only business models.
“We know the coming weeks will be challenging ones for many small business owners, and we want to help restaurants focus on food, not finances,” said Janelle Sallenave, head of Uber Eats for North America, in a statement. “That’s why we’re working to drive increased demand to more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the U.S. and Canada through free delivery and marketing efforts.”
We all can help
Restaurants are facing challenges they’ve never encountered before. As more states shut down dine-in service or close their doors entirely, and more customers stay home because of social distancing, stories about layoffs, closures and struggling restaurants will continue to come out. If you care about supporting local restaurants through this tough time, it’s important to focus on the ways that we as companies and individuals can band together. They’re going to need all of us.
Mark Plumlee is a copywriter who covers marketing trends in the restaurant sector.