Here's How to Stay Updated on Changing Laws, Chef Activism and More Resources to Save Restaurants
As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry is doing whatever it can to stay strong amidst the chaos and closures. With a growing number bars and restaurants forced to close dining rooms, the need to ramp up carry-out, curbside pickup and delivery is becoming more dire, and chefs have had to get creative to remain sustainable. There are a number of industry resources, offering guidance on everything from how to handle sanitation to how to apply for economic assistance. We have a separate list of financial aid resources for foodservicer workers here. We will keep updating this guide regularly; please email us at [email protected] about other resources you are using for your own business.
News, Petitions and Activism
The big news of the week is the president signing into law a COVID-19 financial stimulus package, which would inject $2 trillion into the U.S. economy, via substantial tax rebates, expanded unemployment benefits and myriad tax-relief incentives designed to increase and support finances for individuals, families and businesses. More than $300 billion would be allocated for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, in addition to $10 billion available for small business emergency grants, all of which could be a huge support for restaurants. Here's a breakdown of how it affects restaurant owners and chefs. And here's what you need to know about the American Families First Act, passed on March 18.
It’s a pivotal time to rally for restaurant relief with legislators and federal assistance. Some of America’s most famed restaurateurs and chefs, including Tom Colicchio, Kevin Boehm, Sean Brock and Naomi Pomeroy, have joined forces to create the Independent Restaurant Coalition, an organization open to everyone passionate about speaking up for America’s hospitality industry. By signing up and joining the movement, you can get connected with lawmakers, stay up to date on the latest news and have access to social media mobilization efforts.
A group of chefs launched a national petition to save America's restaurants on change.org, and more than 300K consumers, chefs and industry professionals have signed it. We need more to ensure that our leaders step up and save our industry. Click here to sign and share the petition, and call your representatives and senators to demand that restaurants are part of the federal stimulus plan. You can reach them by phone at 202.224.3121 or tweet them directly—here’s a comprehensive list of Congressional twitter handles.
In New York City, the American city hit hardest by COVID-19 so far, ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants is an ongoing petition amassing signatures to lobby the state government for aid and support for its thousands upon thousands of restaurants. As of now, they’ve collected more than 35K signatures. The NYC Hospitality Alliance has created a Google document called #RestaurantRescuePlan, a social media campaign designed to compile employees furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19 as a powerful tool to bring to local government leaders.
There are similar petitions gaining steam in Las Vegas, lobbying the governor on the behalf of the city’s world-class dining industry, and in Philadelphia, prominent restaurateurs like Greg Vernick, Marc Vetri and Stephen Starr have joined forces with a change.org petition addressed to government officials at the city level, state level and federal level. Then there’s the Seattle Restaurants United initiative, a new petition aimed at local and federal officials providing ideas for support and solutions to keep Seattle’s struggling dining industry afloat.
This is a useful guide with valueable advice on how to handle everything from hand-washing to sanitation in your restaurant, and what to do during a prolonged shut-down. To see the most effective disinfectants (including contact time they should remain on surfaces) for use against COVID-19, see this list from the EPA.
For podcast-listeners looking for a sense of solidarity, Take Away Only is a new show from journalist Howie Kahn, who created this “emergency podcast” to address the most pressing issues and news facing the restaurant industry right now. The series includes interviews with restaurateurs, as well as stories crafted to inspire and uplift during these dark times.
One of the looming issues for restaurants right now is how to pay rent. For a vast majority of businesses, not even a huge uptick in delivery or take-out will be enough to make up for the disappearance of dine-in customers, and owners are rightfully worried about how to pay the bills. Eater published an excellent interview with restaurant lawyer Jasmine Moy about how owners can talk to their landlords about a rent freeze.
The National Restaurant Association also has a wealth of information and resources on its site, including social distancing guidelines, food safety measures and more.
Industry Facebook groups are popping up daily, offering advice for front of the house and back of the house, resources, news, or just a sounding board for advice, economic help or latest news. Check out Hospitality Industry Alliance | COVID-19, Hospitality Strong, #WeAreOne and Industry United.
The Trotter Project in Chicago is creating a Covid-19 Resource Center page on its website. It includes CDC guidelines, economic assistance information, a list of restaurants across America offering take-out and delivery, merchandise available for purchase, and more.
One thing that isn’t helpful during a pandemic—or any crisis—is rumors. This FEMA site is a great resource for managing coronavirus rumor control, with clear explanations for what’s true and what’s false during these rapidly changing times. It helps to know what’s a myth and what’s not, so you can not only maintain your own sanity, but prevent the spread of dangerous rumors.
Gift Card and Delivery Promotions
Promote your gift card program so guests can contribute to your cash flow. Go to Rally for Restaurants to add your restaurant to its directory. Give Local is another resource. The website has a running list of restaurants selling gift cards, which help businesses fund immediate costs. The latest is Local for Later, an ongoing database of restaurants with gift cards for sale, with representation from cities like Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and upstate New York. Another new website is Help Main Street, a database of more than 13,000 restaurants across the country, with a focus on New York City, with online gift cards for sale.
The restaurant delivery database Dining at a Distance has expanded beyond Chicago to include Charleston, Cleveland, Detroit, Asheville, Houston, Savannah, Milwaukee and more cities. They also just added a farm database for farms in the Midwest, providing resources for people who’d like to support their local farms, with information on farm size, location, products and different means of getting said products. Go to the site to add your restaurant, and keep checking back to see more cities included. In Vancouver, Breaking Bread Vancouver features area restaurants offering dine-in and delivery specials, and offer ideas for small businesses being affected. If you are in the Atlanta area, this blog has a list of all restaurants with take-out and delivery options.As more and more restaurants navigate delivery options for the first time, companies like Seven Rooms is a helpful resource. The company focuses on helping restaurants establish direct delivery options, skirting third-party apps to maximize revenue and establish more customer loyalty.
We will be continuing to update this resource list. Email us at [email protected] or let us know in the comments about other resources, forums or social media groups you are relying on right now.