AAA Travel Tips / How to Support Local Restaurants During Self-Isolation

How to Support Local Restaurants During Self-Isolation
By AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
April 01, 2020
Wondering how you can support your favorite restaurants while you self-isolate?
The restaurant industry needs our help during this time of crisis. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry employs 15.6 million people in the United States—that’s equivalent to about one in 10 working Americans.
Even though dining rooms across the nation may be temporarily closed, there are plenty of ways to support local restaurants while you practice safe social distancing. Here are some tips for how to help.
Chinese takout food

Order Takeout

For cities and counties that aren’t in full lockdown mode, ordering takeout is the best way to support local restaurants. Even if your pantry is fully stocked, consider ordering an extra meal or two for your freezer or leaving one on the doorstep of a family member, an elderly neighbor, a friend or a colleague. Do you know a healthcare worker or a first responder? They would probably appreciate a meal.
Takeout might look a little different now, too, as many restaurants are offering take-and-bake packages, meal kits, family-size portions and even extras like toilet paper, sanitizing wipes or bulk ingredients with to-go orders.
Keep an eye out for national efforts you can participate in like The Great American Takeout (#TheGreatAmericanTakeout), which encouraged consumers to order at least one delivery or takeout meal on March 24, 2020, to support the restaurant industry. Another Great American Takeout event took place Tuesday, March 31.
Food delivery service

Be Mindful About Delivery Services

Restaurants often partner with third-party delivery platforms like Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats to get their food to you quickly and conveniently, but keep in mind that these delivery services often take a percentage of the profit away from the restaurant—sometimes as much as 30 percent of a sale. The best way to support your local restaurants is to opt for curbside pickup if possible or ask if they use their own delivery drivers. Some restaurants are even turning their waitstaff into delivery drivers while dining rooms are closed.
Food in takeout boxes

Think Beyond Dinner

Consider ordering takeout at mealtimes other than just dinner. Is there a mom-and-pop diner that offers a takeout breakfast or an independent coffee shop near you with to-go pastries? What about a local spot with sandwiches, desserts or fresh juices and smoothies? Now is a great time to find independent restaurants near you and support them at mealtimes beyond dinner. You can also try AAA’s Restaurant Search to find something new.
Gift card

Buy Merch or Gift Cards

Even if a restaurant is closed, you can still show support by purchasing merchandise or gift cards if they’re available. Some restaurants offer T-shirts, hats, tote bags, cookbooks, sauces or prepackaged coffee grounds on their online storefronts.
Engaging with social media pages on a smartphone

Share Their Posts

Give restaurants the gift of free advertising by sharing their social media posts and updates. The algorithms on social networks often prioritize posts from individuals over posts from businesses, so an original post from you about a great takeout experience or a photo of a delicious meal can go a long way. Word-of-mouth is also invaluable—start a group chat with work colleagues or family members to share your favorite restaurants that are still open for business.
Shopping online from home

Make a Donation

Reach out to restaurant owners in your community through email, social media messages or phone calls (be mindful of their time) to see if they could use any charitable donations. Whether it’s money or supplies, some owners might take you up on the offer. You can also visit crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to search for businesses around you that may be struggling. Some states have begun setting up relief funds to assist restaurant employees and their families.
Customer and cafe owner interacting in restaurant.

Offer Thanks

When you do patronize a local restaurant, thank the employees and owners for feeding you! This is a challenging, stressful time for everyone, and offering a compliment, a smile, a generous tip or a glowing online review can do a lot for their morale—and yours, too.