The rapidly changing COVID-19 situation across the country has pushed food and beverage businesses to make difficult decisions about if and how they operate. From coffee shops and food trucks to Michelin-star restaurants, many have adapted their models to best serve their communities and their employees.
We’ve compiled tips — whether you’re still serving or you’re closed and need to maintain cash flow — as well as industry resources to help you manage your business right now. Check out our content hub for more COVID-19 resources for small businesses.
If you’re looking to shift your business model
Ramp up curbside and delivery
Many food and beverage businesses have added curbside pickup and delivery to continue serving their communities. If you’ve never provided those options before, there are a couple of ways to set them up: You can work with partners like Uber, or you can quickly create an online ordering page and then enable curbside pickup or local delivery.
Create meal kits to sell online
Many people are now working from home, feeding their kids every meal, and trying to avoid crowded grocery stores. So why not make it a little easier for them by creating meal kits? You can post about meal kits for pickup or delivery on your Instagram, or include it in an email to customers. The fastest way to get started is to offer meal kits through an online store.
Become a bodega
Sell what you have in stock — and not just prepared items. People are waiting in long lines at the grocery store for pantry items like flour, eggs, and toilet paper; you can help them avoid those lines by selling from your own supply via an online store.
Serve drinks to go or offer alcohol delivery
Some states are allowing off-premise alcohol sales so that restaurants shift toward being local neighborhood marketplaces. If that’s an option where you are, serve drinks to go while still limiting the number of customers in your space to comply with social-distancing best practices. Check with your local authorities for temporary rule adjustments during this time. Another option is to offer delivery for alcholic beverages. Guidelines for delivering alcohol also vary drastically from state to state and is not available in all states, and some states are continuing to work out what regulation changes will be permanent. But where it is legal, it’s clear that customers love the convenience of alcohol delivery and business owners are benefiting.
Market what you have
Things are changing quickly and all of these changes can confuse customers. Send your customers an email (and use whatever social media you use most) to let them know what you’re still serving and when or if there are other ways they can support your business and employees.
If you’re closed until further notice
Promote digital gift cards
Electronic gift cards can help increase cash flow while your business is closed. You can quickly set up an online ordering page for gift cards and then promote them to your loyal customers — who want to show their support.
Create a donations page
It’s hard to ask for help, but communities are coming together now more than ever. You can create a donations page on your website or online store to ask your neighbors and regulars for assistance.
Sell merchandise online
If you have T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, or other merch, encourage people to buy them now when you need the revenue most. You can sell online via an online store, email, or social media. Learn how to start selling online.
Support your staff
Many restaurateurs face impossible decisions right now about laying off staff. We’ve compiled resources for employers that can assist you in navigating those decisions. We’re also continuing to gather resources for those looking for financial relief.
Restaurant community resources
Dining Bonds Initiative: A bond program for restaurants started by a collective of restaurant professionals. “Dining bonds” work like savings bonds: Customers purchase a bond at a value rate to be redeemed for face value in the future.
Gig Workers Collective: An expansive (and growing) list of resources for people experiencing financial hardship. Some are national resources and others are state-based.
Restaurant Opportunities Center United: A list of resources for direct financial assistance, including relief funds from OFW and RWCF. You can also apply directly for assistance from the National Restaurant Worker Relief Fund with this form.
One Fair Wage Campaign: Financial assistance for restaurant workers, delivery workers, and other people affected by the current shutdowns.
Women in Hospitality United: A Google Sheet of crowdsourced ideas and resources from across the country. It’s an ongoing brainstorm that you can add to.
Bartender Emergency Assistance Program: Grants available to anyone working in the hospitality industry.
Discuss how to adapt and shift your food and beverage business now and in the future in our Food & Beverage Community.