Austin: now is our time to rally around our favorite eateries and show some serious support! It’s no secret that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin restaurants and bars are in deep trouble. Last Tuesday, the city of Austin declared that all dining rooms must remain closed until May 1, and then Governor Abbott extended this to a state-wide closure, beginning on March 20. The restaurant world is already operating on thin margins; a bad day can set them behind, not to mention a bad week in sales. But 6 weeks (maybe longer) of NO dining room service? Restaurant owners are starting to get creative with curbside pickups and food delivery.
Wondering how you can help? I reached out to dozens of Austin restaurant, brewery, food truck, and bar owners to ask for tangible ways that Austinites can help them out. While some restaurants have decided to close their doors for the next few months (read this beautiful statement from Banger’s owner Ben Siegel), many are still fighting the uphill battle to remain open by offering curbside pickup and delivery options.
Here’s the tricky thing for restaurants: fixed costs, like rent, insurance, and property taxes haven’t changed, but the cash flow has greatly decreased (or in some cases, dropped to zero from establishments that don’t have the option of creating a to-go model.) Many restaurants are forced to let their hourly employees go so that they can file for unemployment. It’s totally unfair, but there’s nothing “fair” about this virus that we’re collectively fighting. So, how can we help?
Here are 5 really simple ways to show some love to your favorite Austin restaurants. Because, when you think about why you fell in love with the city of Austin, the food scene is probably at the top of your list.
How To Help Austin Restaurants During The COVID-19 Pandemic:
1. Eat local! Order to-go and curbside pick-up as much as possible.
This one is obvious, but it’s the biggest way you can help so I’m listing it first. Restaurants need our business right now, more than ever. And here’s the good news: they’re still creating the same delicious food that you’ve always loved! It’s not like you’re wasting your money on a product that you won’t use.
This is a really easy ask: go buy some delicious food and eat it! Wondering who’s offering delivery in Austin these days? I’m making it really easy for you: I’ve created instagram story highlights of different meal categories in Austin. Go to my instagram profile to see, and know that I’m updating it on an hourly basis:
2. Call congress and demand independent businesses be part of the federal stimulus plan.
In just a matter of days, millions of restaurant industry workers in America lost their jobs. Right now, leaders are working on a stimulus bill. Call your representative and insist that they help independent businesses, not just big corporations. You can be connected to the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and then demand that independent businesses are part of the federal stimulus plan.
3. If possible, pickup the food instead of using a third-party delivery (like Doordash.)
Third party deliveries take a cut from the cost, so your favorite restaurant isn’t making as much money. If it’s an option for you to do a contactless curbside pickup instead of using a delivery service, that’s going to result in the restaurant getting more income.
Of course, if you’re quarantining (hi, we are after after our international trip!) and going out in public isn’t an option right now, please stay in and order for a delivery to be placed on your porch. You’re still going to help the restaurant.
4. Tip like crazy.
Consider leaving a 50% tip on your check. Yep, it’s a lot, but it’s a small price to pay for the long-term livelihood of your favorite restaurants. Imagine South Congress without Home Slice Pizza, or east Austin without Dai Due, or life in Austin without those kimchi fries at Chi’Lantro… Tipping $10, instead of $4, on your $20 bill is a small price to pay. If we’re all doing it, this could make a HUGE difference in the longevity of these beloved restaurants.
5. Leave a good rating on platforms like yelp and google.
Ok y’all, this is a teeny-tiny thing that you can do right now that might help the restaurant in the future. It’s not going to bring in $ right right now, but it costs you nothing but 2 minutes of time, and it might help them out in the future when dining rooms are open again.
I love this city with my whole heart. One of the best parts about living in Austin is holding bragging rights that we have some of the best restaurants in the whole country. Let’s not lose that. We’re all spending money on food anyway, so we might as well use that money to support the restaurants that are fighting to stay open.