Over the past few years, local restaurants have struggled with new indoor dining guidelines, staffing shortages and rising costs of supplies. Because of this, it has become more important to support local restaurants in meaningful ways. These establishments foster local job growth, support regional agriculture and keep your money in your community. In addition to the economic benefits of keeping local restaurants in business, these places can make a special place in your heart, serving as hosts for birthday parties and celebratory drinks or providing your favorite hometown meal. Below, take a look at some of the ways you can support these businesses.
How to support local restaurants in person
The best way to support local restaurants is simple — head out for a delicious meal. When you have the means, try out a local spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Need a more budget-friendly option? Try supporting local coffee or smoothie shops.
Additionally, one of the simplest things you can do is prioritize local restaurants when making plans for date night or dinner with friends. A fun way to do this might be to start a dinner club with your friends, in which someone chooses a new local place to try out. Or you can make supporting local restaurants a built-in part of your date nights.
Other things you can do while dining out:
- Tip well to support the staff (this could be anywhere from 10% to 25% depending on your location).
- Purchase gift cards to give to friends and family.
- Purchase other merchandise from the restaurant, such as hats, T-shirts or mugs.
- Take photos of your meals to share on social media (and remember to tag the restaurant and location).
Ways to help local restaurants from home
If you're a senior or immunocompromised person, or you don't yet feel comfortable dining out, don't worry, there are still ways you can support your local restaurants from home.
Ordering take-out is a simple way to support your local restaurants. However, one thing to consider is how you order the food. The best way to make sure the restaurant is getting the most profit is ordering directly from the restaurant, either on their website, through their app or over the phone. If you use third-party delivery apps, be sure to leave a generous tip when you check out.
Some restaurants are now offering meal kits for sale. Meal kits provide you with all the things you need to recreate your restaurant's favorite dishes at home. It's the perfect way to have a local favorite for a family birthday dinner at home.
Another way to support local restaurants is through donations. Keep an eye out for fundraising efforts, or just call and ask if they'll accept a donation to go toward the future of the restaurant.
Other ways to support local restaurants
If you have a great meal from a local restaurant, whether you got takeout or went in person, make sure to leave a review. There are numerous places to leave reviews online, including larger third-party websites, the restaurant's social media pages or the restaurant's website. Make sure to mention what you liked about the meal; include any great interactions you had with the staff and share photos if you took any.
Those photos can also go a long way on your personal social media too. Because people tend to trust recommendations from the people they know, sharing those photos and reviews on your own social pages can help spread the word in a meaningful way. It can also be helpful to tag the restaurant or share a direct link to their website so people can find them easily.
A more high-level way to support your local restaurants is to support government bills that will help small businesses. Keep abreast of local legislation in the works and reach out to your elected officials to encourage them to support it. Don't be afraid to check in regularly to remind legislators that you care and you're keeping an eye on things.
Local restaurants are an integral part of communities, and it's important to do what you can to support them. Be intentional in choosing to spend your money at local restaurants and make it part of your regular routine. Remember that support doesn't have to be monetary — posting online reviews, giving recommendations to friends, and pushing for legislation to help small businesses goes a long way too.