In the face of a financial crisis due to the coronavirus, restaurant veterans and organizations have started campaign efforts to reduce the burden on foodservice businesses and employees.
For example, public relations firms and restaurant veterans have banded together to form a “Dining Bonds” campaign in which customers can purchase a “savings bond,” but for restaurants.
According to the campaign, customers can buy a bond (in other words, a gift certificate) at the value rate, and redeem it for full value in the future. The savings of the dining bonds is 25 percent. That means a $100 dining bond can be bought for $75, and later redeemed for $100, around 30 to 60 days after purchase.
The goal is to sell the bonds in the next 30 days to provide a boost in income for restaurants that are suffering in the wake of mandated closures and curfews. More than a dozen states have already ordered restaurants to close and limit services to takeout or delivery.
“We’re already seeing a number of restaurants close and are very concerned about the future of the industry,” said Helen Patrikis of HP-PR, and a co-founder of the Dining Bonds initiative, in a statement. “We hope that these dining bonds help by bringing in much-needed revenue to these restaurants now. No one wants to see their favorite restaurant close its doors, and this is a simple way of offering much needed support.”
More than 50 brands have signed up to offer the bonds. The participating restaurants can be found at supportrestaurants.org. Any restaurant is eligible to join. The effort is comprised of different segments, from family dining to fine dining.
“This is a very challenging time, and we’re experiencing something we have never had to deal with before,” added Jennifer Petrocelli, executive director of The Preston House & Hotel, a participating restaurant. “We want to remain optimistic, so this initiative shows solidarity within our restaurant community and hopefully reassures our guests that if they aren’t able to visit us at this point in time, we’ll be here for them when things settle down.”
In that same vein of solidarity, the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has established a Restaurant Workers COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund to send funds to organizations assisting the restaurant community. It will also boost the organization’s impact investing budget to provide zero interest loans to help businesses maintain payroll and create a relief fund for individual workers facing economic hardship.
“Up until now, RWCF [Restaurant Workers Community Foundation] has been relatively light on direct pleas for donations, and that was for a reason. We wanted to build a history of successful work before asking people to trust us with their charitable dollars,” said John deBary, RWCF co-founder and board president. “The coronavirus crisis has upended that strategy—we need to start working to help the most vulnerable among us now.”
According to WorkJam, 49 percent of hourly workers are unable to pay utilities on-time when one shift is missed. Twenty-seven percent miss rent payments and 25 percent don’t buy groceries for a week.