How to Manage Your Food and Beverage Business During COVID-19

Shelter-in-place orders across the country have 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 are adapting 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 are shifting to 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

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.

Market what you have

Things have changed, and they’ve changed quickly. 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 we need to come together as a community 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.

The James Beard Foundation: Resources and webinars on the restaurant industry’s various responses to COVID-19.

Give and Get Local: A directory of businesses offering gift cards that consumers can search by location. To add your business, simply create a gift card ordering page.

Discuss how to adapt and shift your food and beverage business now and in the future in our Food & Beverage Community.