Many of us are eager to support restaurants in the pandemic, but a lot has changed for how to do that best. That’s why I’ve been asking New Orleans restaurant people what would help them most now, and what they wished more people knew.
Gift cards are an obvious option, but for some their importance right now can’t be overstated as a way to gin up cashflow when service is limited. Same goes with merchandise a restaurant might sell. Bonus, it’s a gift that’s always the right size.
“Keep it local” is another plea, especially as independent restaurants watch their better-capitalized corporate competition chugging right along. Eating local now is an investment in having local restaurants in the long run.
Get creative, and don’t rely only on what the internet shows you. Many restaurants have added business lines in the pandemic, and some, especially smaller restaurants, may not have all their offerings neatly packaged online. Get in touch directly, have a chat, you could be surprised what they can do.
How about strategic reservations? Consider using your own flexibility to help restaurants that now have less flexibility. The weekend 7 pm table remains the most popular. If you can go on a weeknight or an off-peak hour, you’re helping restaurants extend their business.
Remember that those ubiquitous third-party delivery services diminish the earnings restaurants get from their work and from your business. To make your support go further, go to the restaurant to pick up when you can.
Crucially, of course, do what public health officials have been pleading with us to do all along —mask up, wash hands, avoid large gatherings. Stopping the spread is how restaurants can stay open and eventually build back up.
And, finaly, have a heart, and some patience. Our hospitality people are trying to stay safe, trying to make a living and trying to take care of you. That can’t be easy, but with our help it doesn’t have to be such a tall order.