Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought communities closer together than ever before. Even with the impact that it has had on restaurants, businesses are finding new ways to show support. Community support during this time can be a turning point for a restaurant that’s on the verge of making it.

The new norms of the industry now include providing for the community first. It is a top priority to help feed frontline workers and families in need.

We’ve collected examples of restaurants and communities coming together during COVID-19. These include creations of social media campaigns, gift card specials, and local partnerships. Hopefully, these can provide insight into some strategies for partnering with your community.

Social Media Campaigns

Restaurants and communities are coming together to create social media campaigns. The idea is to get neighboring restaurants together to create a community hashtag.

A community hashtag can be used to see what restaurants are open and help support local ones. This allows for several restaurants to be promoted together.

To give you a better idea of how to approach this, here are a couple of examples communities are doing or have done.

1. #TheGreatAmericanTakeout

Though this hashtag isn’t tied to a local community, it’s supporting the restaurant industry as a whole. #TheGreatAmericanTakeout promotes people to order takeout and post photos with the hashtag.

Since Takeout Tuesday has also become the latest trend, this hashtag is a Tuesday to-do. Each week different organizations come together to create gift card giveaways. Coming up is a “fiesta like no other” as Cinco De Mayo is going to fall on Tuesday, May 5th. Order from your favorite local Mexican restaurant and don’t forget to snap a pic.

2. #407Day

Restaurants in Orlando, Florida, came together to create the campaign #407Day. This day was celebrated on April 7th, 2020, and featured a total of 407 open restaurants. There is also the hashtag #OrlandoToGo for people to post their takeout selfies. The goal was to support the diverse restaurants and share images of local favorites.

3. #WeareFenton

The schools of Fenton, Michigan, have come together to create the #WeareFenton campaign. This campaign supports local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic and keeps them afloat.

These campaigns are helping communities make a difference for struggling restaurants. As restaurants get more support, they are more able to give back to the community as well.

Your customers are also spending more time on social media with stay-at-home orders. Use community hashtags to increase your visibility and engagement.

Events & Partnerships

Local businesses have begun to offer special events and partnerships for the community. The ways in which you can provide support for restaurants are starting to get creative. These contributions generate immediate revenue and provide a fun experience in the future.

Some examples include:

Breyer Law’s HEART Campaign

The HEART campaign stands for Helping Excellent Arizona Restaurants Together. Breyer’s Law Officers is helping restaurants raise up to $4,000 in revenue in one day. Here’s how it works:

  1. People nominate local restaurants at www.breyerlaw.com/heart.
  2. They will choose one restaurant at a time. For that day, Breyer Law will pay for 50% of every order placed up to $2,000.
  3. They then work with the restaurant to promote their daily deal on social media.

This campaign is a prime example of community support that restaurants need. These are trying times and this can encourage people to drive businesses.

#SavePhillyEats

The city of Philadelphia has created a digital hub called #SavePhillyEats. This is a place featuring unique experiences and offers created within the community. People can buy these special offers now to provide restaurants with direct funding.

The founders Anthony Bucci and David Bookspan funded the whole program so 100% of the proceeds can go directly back to each restaurant.

Experiences of #SavePhillyEats include but are not limited to:

  • Private Dinners
  • Wine Parties
  • Hands-on Cooking Classes
  • Family-style Meal Deals

This program is also happy to help introduce this concept to other cities as well. Check it out here.

Feed the Front Line NOLA

Local New Orleans restaurants and Krewe of Red Beans organization partnered up and created Feed the Front Line NOLA project. This organization is working to feed hospital workers, employ out-of-work artists, and support local restaurants.

A process called “Send Food Love” is where a special win-win-win situation comes into play. Here is how it works:

  1. Feed the Front Line NOLA orders and pays for food themselves. Then local restaurants make enough meals that are then delivered to hospitals.
  2. Musicians and artists who have lost their jobs due to this crisis and hired and trained to deliver the food to local hospitals.
  3. Hospital heroes then receive “food love” from local restaurants, delivered by the community.

Feed the Front Line NOLA has also created a DIY Open Source Toolkit to spread the concept of this all over America. The support in this program is allowing restaurants to survive.

Pay It Forward

Restaurants can band together during these uncertain times and offer interchangeable gift cards. Restaurant groups have begun to offer such as Chefstable and Fox Restaurant Concepts. Gift cards from these groups may be used at any of the locations.

But, this is not something that can only be done with restaurant groups. Small business owners have more room to partner with each other and offer gift card specials such as these. Encourage support from your combined customers and do a giveaway altogether.

Gift card specials give your restaurant the ability to bring in new business. Cities are creating directories to provide resources to local communities offering gift cards. Some include SaveOurFaves, Help Main Street, and Give Local. These are initiatives for the community to provide support in any way possible.

Here’s how you can help

There are a countless number of partnerships and organizations in this time of need. But, these examples can give restaurants ideas on how to partner with their community as well.

These insights and strategies can make a huge difference in your community. Whether it be conjoined events, giveaways, or community campaigns, all are helpful.

Show the restaurant community you are there for them. Continue to show support for your favorite local restaurants by ordering takeout and delivery. If your community doesn’t have a campaign in the works, get involved with neighboring restaurants, and create one.

Something that we here at CAKE have begun to offer is Online Ordering Gifting. The idea is to be able to provide restaurants with donations as a gift. This gives them immediate relief and is a way for you to show your support. 

Being within the restaurant industry, you are a part of the community. In these uncertain times, you can provide a sense of normalcy and more engagement in future endeavors. We all need to come together, now more than ever, and help in any way possible.