Where Hospitality Businesses Can Go for Support — And How Consumers Can Give Back

by Katie Sawyer, · 4 minutes

With COVID-19 forcing many hospitality businesses to temporarily close, these owners, managers, and staff are in need of great support. Communities were quick to rally around local business, organizing relief funds and finding creative ways to support them.

It’s important to know where you can go for support during this time. Read on for five ways to find support — from financial grants from foundations to asking your local community for help.

1. Relief funds

One of the main sources of support for restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic is relief funds. Consumers have been supporting their local hospitality businesses by donating to relief funds and charities that help pay staff and manage fixed costs. You can access many of these funds by applying to receive their grants.

Here are just a few of the many relief funds available in the United States, Australia, and UK.

  • The USBG launched a COVID-19 Relief Campaign to raise funds for their Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. Bartenders and their families impacted by COVID-19 can apply to receive the philanthropic grant based on eligibility criteria. As an individual, you can support by donating to the fund or volunteering your time.

  • The James Beard Foundation is collecting donations from consumers, corporations, and foundations. Their fund provides micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses. The goal of this relief fund is to give small businesses immediate access to funds to cover their set operating expenses.

  • Under the CARES Act, The Paycheck Protection Program was established to provide assistance with payroll and other operating expenses. Small businesses can apply for 100% forgivable, federally guaranteed loans with a flat interest rate of 1%. Your loan amount will be 250% (or 2.5 times) your average monthly payroll, capped at $10 million (depending on the lender). The portion of the loan used to cover qualified expenses like payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities will be forgiven. You can learn more and sign up for updates here.

  • MYOB is tracking the economic stimulus measures available to businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Read their updates for more information on the stimulus packages and to understand if your business qualifies.

  • The Australian Government announced a $130 billion “JobKeeper” stimulus package, which allows businesses to continue paying their employees with financial assistance from the Government. The Government has provided criteria for determining if a business is eligible for the payment, and which employees will qualify as eligible to receive the payment.

  • The Drinks Trust launched a fund to support workers in the UK drinks industry affected by COVID-19. As a business or individual, you can donate to the fund to directly support the drinks industry workers that need help.

  • TipJar’s Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund directly supports contract workers in the UK who are not being paid during COVID-19 closures. Donations are being used to give eligible applicants a £250 grant.

2. Gift cards

Your loyal customers might not be able to dine in at your restaurant right now but you know they’ll be the first ones through the door when you open back up. Until then, sell gift cards to be used when service goes back to normal. Gift card sales will help you manage your costs during the downtime and gives your patrons something to look forward to at the end of this.

Restaurants are selling gift cards on their websites and promoting them on their social media accounts. OpenTable has an online directory of restaurants and bars selling gift cards so consumers can easily find and support their local favorites.

SupportRestaurants.org launched a campaign to sell dining bonds. These dining bonds are discounted gift cards to be used by consumers in the future. Your restaurant can participate and be featured on the website’s interactive map by filling out this form.

3. Social media

If you’re staying at home, you’re probably spending more time on social media than usual. Let your followers know how they can support you and your staff by posting links to gift cards or relief funds for your business. People are eager to jump in on viral challenges. Ask your loyal followers to start a “see a donation, send a donation” challenge. The challenge will encourage participants to support their favorite local businesses with a donation and challenge others to do the same.

4. Host a virtual happy hour or cooking class

Everything from school to group hangouts is happening online now. Why not add happy hours or cooking classes to the list? Some chefs have posted cooking tutorials on their social media accounts, inspiring followers to cook their recipes while staying home.

While hosting a live cooking class, you can demo how to make something from your menu or your signature cocktail at home. If you’re providing delivery or takeout service, sell the ingredients necessary for the class so that your new students are prepared for your tutorial. You can also use the virtual event to help cover your costs by requesting a donation as the cover fee. Your loyal patrons will love to learn a couple of your tricks and see your face again.

5. As a consumer, reach out directly to businesses

Many small, independent restaurants and bars don’t have websites or social media accounts and may not be directly benefiting from relief funds or campaigns. Reach out directly to your favorite neighborhood spot and ask what will help them and their staff most right now. Ask questions like, “What can I do to support your staff right now?” or “What is your top priority right now and how can I help you get it done?”

As consumers we rely on our local hospitality businesses to serve us everyday and now it’s our turn to serve them. Even a call to check in on your regular barista or bartender will provide support during these times of uncertainty.

We’re here to help.

Through this incredibly challenging time, Deputy is here to support you and your team. Please reach out to our support team to learn how we can assist you.

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