With restaurants and bars around the country being asked to temporarily close to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), many businesses are rightly worried about their future. Everyone, from small business owners to chain empires, knows how difficult it is to keep a business afloat on thin margins as it is—without adding in the grievances of shuttering their doors for an undetermined amount of time.  

So, how can you help? We’ve come up with a few options to help keep your favorite restaurants in business—so that once this is all behind us, you can celebrate at your favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant or with three scoops of ice cream.

Buy a Gift Card 

Stock up on gift cards from your favorite coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, and speciality stores. It doesn’t have to be much—even $25 is useful—which will help cover costs for your beloved spaces. 

Grab Takeout or Delivery

Although restaurants are no longer able to cater to guests in-house, many are still operating by non-contact delivery or providing pick up services. Call ahead to your local restaurants and see what services they’re offering (many that formerly didn’t deliver are now on Seamless or Grubhub or similar platforms). Plus, Seamless is deferring commission fees and delaying its revenue in an effort to increase restaurants’ cash flow, giving them the much needed boost to pay their employees. Looking for other ways to give back while ordering takeout? Now you can, thanks to new app Beam, which takes 1% of your spending on takeout and donates it to nonprofits like Food Bank for New York City and Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry.  

Related Reading: How to Shop for Groceries If You’re Concerned About Coronavirus

Order from Goldbelly

Many restaurants who have been forced to shutter are turning to Goldbelly, an online e-commerce platform that ships all kinds of food products throughout the country. A ton of the country’s local businesses are housed on the platform, like Ess-A-Bagel in New York City, Pat’s King of Steaks in Philly, and McLoons Lobster Shop in Maine, who can package products and ship them out to you—no matter where you live.

Related Reading: Our Favorite Eats & Sweets on Goldbelly from Around the Country

Invest in Cookbooks

Does your favorite restaurant have its own cookbook? Support them by purchasing one! After all, you’re going to be cooking from home for awhile, and what better what to get motivated than by dog-earing a whole bunch of new recipes? Psst: We like this, this, and this, but you can find other good books here.

Related Reading: Support Your Favorite Restaurants by Purchasing Their Cookbooks

Buy Branded Prepared Food and Pantry Items from Your Local Store

Many local businesses stock specialty stores with their products—think everything from tubs of ice cream to breads and yogurt. Check to see what your local grocery store is stocking and make an effort to grab whatever’s in sight.  

Snag Some Swag

Many small businesses and restaurants have their own line of swag—and this is a great time to buy a few items. You’re going to be making a lot of coffee at home, right? Buy a mug from your corner coffee shop. Need a new tote to carry home groceries? A baseball cap to watch reruns of sports games? A T-shirt to WFH in? Check out websites to see what’s being sold, or call ahead and see what you can buy.  

Donate to a Cause

Many restaurants and bars have set up a GoFundMe, or a similar portal, to help support furloughed and laid-off staff members through this difficult time. Even a few dollars could help someone unemployed get dinner on the table, so look to your favorite spot and see what you can give. Other, larger establishments, like NYC’s Union Square Hospitality Group, have devised an auction to benefit unemployed staff members, peddling items for auction like Zoom cocktails with Ina Garten, US Open tickets, and a weekend away in Copenhagen. You can also bid on the #AskChefsAnything auction, which is floating through a number of major cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia, allowing bidders to to grab 30 minutes with their favorite chef, with the proceeds raised benefiting immigrant workers. And check out Off Their Plate, helping frontline healthcare workers and restaurant employees in multiple cities.

Header image by Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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