How to support small restaurants

Help keep dining alive during (and beyond) COVID-19

As we gear up for quarantine mode, it’s so so important that we don’t forget about the small businesses that rely on a daily influx of customers to maintain their bottom line. Restaurants notoriously operate on razor-thin margins and cannot afford to lose our dollars for days, let alone weeks. Jobs are in jeopardy and many tipped workers will struggle. Chinatowns across the country have been facing dire turnout for weeks now. Hopefully, the government will step in to help.

Dinner at Wu’s Wonton King, March 11th

On Wednesday I shared my strategy for coping in the time of coronavirus, which has been to avoid going stir crazy while staying close to home by supporting local restaurants. Visit your favorite neighborhood cafés, bars, restaurants, and wine shops, but also make moves to check out the spots you’ve overlooked or haven’t yet made the time for. It goes without saying that this effort requires washing your hands as often as possible, sanitizing frequently, coughing or sneezing into your elbow (not your hands), keeping some distance from both friends and strangers, and staying home if you’re feeling at all unwell.

A lot has changed since then. Yesterday, New York mandated all restaurants to reduce capacity by 50%. As of this afternoon, Danny Meyer has officially closed all of his restaurants along with other leaders in the industry. My social feeds are flooded with posts from teams ensuring that they are taking extra steps and following protocols required by the CDC, WHO, and other departments of health in order to keep their spaces safe. Meanwhile, restaurants are thinking swiftly and creatively about how to bring their delicious food to us if we can’t make it to them—or if they must close their doors.

Dear Friends & Family of Bernie’s!

We are doing everything in our power to actively follow instructions and guidelines as information becomes available from the CDC, local and federal government and industry experts. The health and safety of our team and guests is always our #1 priority and we will continue to uphold the best possible standards of operations and sanitation.
When we reach mandated capacity, we will take your phone number and we will be happy to text or call you when a table becomes available.
Ultimately our goal is to remain open, keep our employees safe and gainfully employed and provide the best possible hospitality to our guests and the neighborhood of Greenpoint. Thank you! ❤️
March 13, 2020

Canlis, a mecca for fine dining in Seattle, shuttered its dining room and is opening a bagel shed, drive-thru operation, and family meal delivery service in place, starting next week. “Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, this is one idea for safely creating jobs for our employees while serving as much of our city as we can,” their website reads.

My favorite neighborhood restaurant Hart’s is facilitating pick up dinner tonight (as are their sister restaurants The Fly and Cervo’s).

In addition to regular hours of dinner service tonight, we've made menus available at all our locations that are available for pick up. Please call ahead (718)-636-6228 to place an order or stop on by and order in person. Our teams continue to do their incredible work, and we all would love to serve you. Thank you to everyone who is taking care of themselves, thank you to everyone who is taking care of each other. 💜
March 13, 2020

Here’s another great idea:

Many spots are offering delivery via the usual platforms like Caviar and Seamless, while also encouraging diners to call them directly, so they can bypass service fees. My old stomping ground Resy just put out this thorough guide to takeout and delivery options from their many amazing restaurant partners in NYC.

I encourage you all to visit the Instagram pages of your go-to places (and look out for emails) to see what they’re offering and support them in whatever way you can. They need us now more than ever—tonight, tomorrow, and however long it takes to kick coronavirus to the curb. Restaurants are the best places in the world to let go, have fun, and be together. If we want them to be there for us when this nightmare is over, let’s be the best diners we can be now, even if that means from afar.

I’ll be keeping you in the loop on all things food and restaurants during this crazy time, so expect to hear from me more frequently in the coming days—from more ways to help to where I’m stocking from and what I’m snacking on.

Have questions or topics you want to see me cover? Don’t hesitate to hit my line by replying to this email or via @SomeMeals on Twitter.

Stay safe out there. ❤️