Helping your local restaurants in quarantine

Adam Balchin on how you can support a struggling industry

‘Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.’ Or so the saying goes. You’ll often hear politicians echo this remark, from Washington DC to Wellington, NZ. It is, however, a statement that is ringing true for a lot of towns and localities in these uncharted waters during a pandemic. With national lockdowns coming into force, social and travel restrictions too, it is up to us to support our local businesses – particularly local pubs, restaurants and cafes. Our efforts will truly sink or swim these foundational pillars of our local economies. There is still hope as people and governments across the world are waking up to the importance of their local entrepreneurs, but more needs to be done. What then, can we do to provide assistance?

First and foremost, support local home delivery services. I cannot stress this enough. While there are a plethora of options on Deliveroo, Just Eat, or whatever other foodie app you are using to appease your growing addiction to takeaway food in this time of quarantine, most local businesses won’t have established themselves on these sorts of quick services. Some of us might not actually have access to these apps, especially in rural areas, where the choice is local restaurants or a home-cooked meal.

This isn’t stopping local food outlets from continuing to deliver their food straight to your door, in many cases, for free, with no delivery charge. Just the other day my family had a delivery from our local chip shop, operating out of a food truck in the nearby village. It tasted just as good, if not better, than any meal I ordered off Deliveroo or Uber Eats in Dublin. My point is try, where possible, to see if your favourite local place is still operating home delivery or collection services, albeit in an unusual fashion, for them and for you. And don’t forget to tip.

Pints. Truly the backbone of student life. One small issue. The pubs are all closed. So how can you support them? Virtual Pints. While the lockdown may have taken away our ability to go down to Doyle’s or the Pav to have a good one, it has ushered in a new way to still relive that pub atmosphere, and support your local pub at the same time. I am, of course, talking about the new Virtual Pint Drive. Starting as a Just Giving page, the aim is to raise money to support local, independent pubs and music venues that have shut in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. The effort has since gone viral, complete with its own virtual menu, with non-alcoholic beverages and round options. Those who donate €20 or more are also put into a raffle for concert and festival tickets once this has all blown over. You can find out all about it on their website.

“The pubs are all closed. So how can you support them? Virtual Pints.”

Speaking of getting pints delivered, those who still live in Dublin can avail of a once in a lifetime experience. Getting a pint of Guinness delivered directly to your door. Graingers Hanlons Corner on the North Circular Road are pulling out all the stops to make sure you can still enjoy a drink whenever you like. Following social distancing and hygiene recommendations put in place by the government, this Dublin pub delivers everything from a pint of Guinness to bottles of wine. Their details can be found on their Facebook page.

And also try to support your local food banks. They may not put food into your stomach, but they would greatly appreciate the food you and your family don’t use in order to help feed the less fortunate, especially in high risk areas like Dublin and Cork City Centres.

Further afield, in the United States, people are putting hope into the hearts of local food outlets. Websites are popping up to help local restaurants ‘weather the storm’. Websites like Save our Faves in San Francisco, co-founded by Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, and Portland SOS are helping local restaurants and cafes push through this crisis, matching customers with gift cards for use when the virus dies down.

In New York City, an organisation known as City Harvest is taking in food donations and distributing them to essential local food services, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and other businesses struggling to stay afloat in this difficult time when supply chains are not as stable as usual.

Though it will be a challenge, the ‘backbone of our economy’ will survive, but only if we come together and act. Support those local businesses of yours that are feeling the awful effects of not having a steady stream of customers coming through their doors, or they might not be there when this is over.