COVIDEat & Drink

4 Ways To Actually Help Your Struggling Local Restaurant

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As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to decimate our country, small businesses and restaurants are taking the brunt of the devastation. Well, other than the 300,000 lives lost to the virus. Over 110,000 restaurants have closed either permanently or long-term since the health crisis began and with indoor dining shutting down in more and more states and the weather making outdoor dining less of an option, it’s only going to get worse. Since it seems that our government isn’t ready to step up and help the restaurant industry, it’s up to customers to do it for them, but how? If you have a favorite neighborhood restaurant and you are wondering if they are struggling or not, wonder no more: they are. The restaurant owner can use your help and so can the few employees who are still working there and here’s how to do it:

1. Eat Outdoors

If you live someplace where outdoor dining is still allowed and your weather is cooperative, take advantage of it. Sit on the patio (or any makeshift outdoor dining area which may or may not be on a sidewalk or in a bike lane) and order food. Not only will you be helping the restaurant owner pay bills and payroll, you’ll be getting a night off from cooking and you’ll soak in some Vitamin D at the same time. It’s a win-win.

2. Order takeout

Maybe takeout is the only option you have in your city or maybe you just don’t feel safe eating anywhere but inside your own home, but takeout is the surest way to help your local struggling restaurant. A lot of restaurants even offer to-go cocktails which can be a real treat if all you have in your liquor cabinet is some old creme de violette and your fridge is only offering a can of Bud Light and some limoncello. But here’s the thing: CALL THE RESTAURANT DIRECTLY. When you use a third party app like Seamless or Grubhub, those companies take up to 25-30% of your check, so if you really want to help out the restaurant skip the app. Plenty of restaurants have their own delivery people or you can go pick it up yourself. It might not be as convenient as having a driver bring it to your door, but if you want to help out the restaurant, it’s the way to do it.

3. Tip

When you do order takeout and go pick it up yourself, tip well. The cost of the food is going to help the restaurant, but the tip is going to help the employees. While it’s true that the person handing you a bag of food didn’t do as much for you if you had been sitting inside for ninety minutes, there was still labor involved. That person took the order, bagged it, stocked all of the boxes and plastic ramekins for your ketchup, all while juggling the phone, online orders and keeping track of the people coming in to pick up food. Sometimes, those tips are even shared with the kitchen staff who cooked the food. If you can afford to order a $18 hamburger, you can afford to tip on it, right? And tip your delivery people too. They’re at work so that you can stay home.

4. Say thank you

Of course all of the above options are only good if you’re in a financial place that allows you to afford food from a restaurant. If you’re not, it’s okay. Plenty of people these days can’t afford the luxury of eating out, but if you pop your head into your favorite restaurant that you used to frequent just to say hello to the staff, that simple act of kindness will help in a different way. A lot of service industry workers feel like no one cares about them right now and letting them know how appreciated they are will go along way in their well-being.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.