As many city officials across the country order restaurants and bars to shutter to dine-in guests, local foodies are looking for new ways to support their favorite spots without actually leaving the house. There are plenty of ways to show up for restaurant and bar workers during this uncertain time—from stocking up on gift cards and ordering no-contact delivery to buying merch and writing a review.
If you're able, here are five things you can do to ensure that your city's finest eateries and watering holes can weather the storm. And because all cities are operating under different guidelines and restrictions at the moment (and we know how fast those can change), please use your best judgment.
Editor's note: We'll continue adding tips and guidance to this story over time. Stay tuned for more creative ways to show your support.
1. Order delivery or curbside pickup
When you tire of peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars, shake things up by ordering in from your usual haunts. National services like DoorDash, Grubhub and Caviar offer no-contact delivery so that drivers can leave your feast in a safe place, like a lobby or doorstep. Restauranteurs and bar owners are getting creative, too, like this Los Angeles bar that's delivering cocktail kits, toilet paper and wagyu burgers. Follow your city guidelines for ordering takeout service, and for the love of humanity, tip generously.
2. Stock up on gift cards
Many restaurant owners throughout the country are pointing to gift cards as a quick way to financially support their operations during this tough time. It's not hard to see why: When diners purchase gift cards, it provides direct cash flow to the restaurant or bar of your choosing—kind of like an IOU. And when the dust settles and venues reopen, you'll have a special meal to look forward to. Lots of restaurants and bars offer digital gift cards online, or you can call directly to arrange something over the phone with your neighborhood joint.
3. Buy merch and cookbooks
If you're anything like us, you're attending virtual meetings in your sweatpants and reacquainting yourself with your kitchen. Believe it or not, you can lean into both of these coronavirus measures to show your local love. Cruise your favorite restaurant or bar's website for a merch section, where you can snag T-shirts, hats, koozies and onesies. Plenty of well-known chefs also peddle their cookbooks, bottled sauces and spices online—just be sure to purchase directly through their sites if you can.
4. Finally write that review
Looking for a totally free way to show up over the next couple of weeks? There's no shame in that. Consider writing a positive Yelp or Google review for the restaurants and bars you adore. Go ahead and wax poetic about past dining experiences, and show some love to your favorite servers or bartenders. Business owners will tell you that reviews like these go a long way and will set them up for success when they can reopen.
5. Choose local at the grocery story
Listen, we're not proponents of doomsday-prep–style grocery shopping (save some toilet paper for the rest of us, will ya?), but if you're heading to a nearby supermarket or ordering groceries online, consider stocking up on local brands where you can. Fill your cart with beans from a nearby roastery, beer from your go-to local brewery and bread from that funky lil' bakery downtown.