5 Ways Restaurants Can Thrive by Supporting Their Local Communities

2020 has not been kind to those in the restaurant business. But even if you find yourself struggling financially, there are still ways to thrive in this complex environment. And one of them is by helping to support your local community. 

Support Local Food Banks and Other Charitable Organizations 

Supporting local food banks and other charitable organizations is something that restaurants have been doing for a long time, but it is even more critical during the present crisis. A large number of people are out of work, and many are finding it hard to put quality food on the table for their families. Helping out is humane and kind.

Supporting food banks also offers multiple benefits for businesses looking to recover in the post-crisis period. First, it helps to improve brand image. Companies can go public with their efforts to help the less fortunate, which improves how their communities see them. Second, it allows foodservice outlets to put excess inventory to good use, instead of consigning it to waste. Nobody wants to trash perfectly edible food!

Host Socially-Distanced Community Events

Social distancing has become part of the cultural landscape. Restaurants must adapt or face both revenue losses and the possibility of brand damage. 

Hosting socially-distanced community events, such as family night, is one possible route forward. The idea here is to get families together and then promote deals on food, such as free meals for kids under five. 

The most challenging part of this process is thinking up events in the first place. You want to keep people safe, but you also want to have fun. One popular idea right now is to showcase local entertainment. You can arrange for somebody to perform and limit entry to keep people as far apart from each other as possible. 

Promote Contactless Ordering and Delivery Through an Online Ordering System or Mobile App 

When people frequent your establishment, they want to do so in a way that doesn’t lead to the transmission of infection. Contactless POS is one way to go, but having an online ordering system or mobile app is arguably better. These solutions offer multiple advantages, including getting business from people who are sheltering in place and reducing transmission in the community. Thus, when you install a contactless system, you’re helping to keep everyone healthy. 

With advancing technology, many customers now expect restaurants to have mobile apps or other online means for tasks like ordering and booking. This makes an online ordering system both a short and long-term investment. 

Source Local Ingredients 

Don’t just go to the big national suppliers who source ingredients from all over the world. Instead, ask yourself whether any local vendors can supply your food—at least in the short term. With a deep recession underway, local suppliers are struggling to stay afloat, but restaurants are in an excellent position to help.

Patrons love restaurants that go local. Prices might be slightly higher, but the brand advantage is worth noting. When people find out that you are local to the area, it gives them an incentive to come and dine with you. It often means that the ingredients are fresher and the menu options have something to do with regional history. There’s a certain romance about that you shouldn’t underestimate. 

Sourcing local ingredients also allows you to build better supplier relationships. Going through national wholesalers may feel a little impersonal, and you never really get to know the people on the other end. When you source local ingredients, you both make your business greener, and you establish local networks. 

Promote Local Musicians, Artists, And Other Community Members

Musicians, artists, and other community members with talents for the stage are struggling, just like many enterprises in the foodservice industry. 

It turns out, though, that there are opportunities for mutual benefit here, too. Many artists have had to say goodbye to 2020 as a revenue-generating opportunity. It’s just not possible to make the sort of income they need in an era where people cannot gather together in large numbers. 

Restaurants, therefore, should cast themselves as a kind of platform for the local community. When people discover that they can dine out and also see a live performance, they’re much more likely to do so. This helps everyone. It’s a win for the restaurants, customers, and the artists themselves, so long as it is done with effective social distancing in place.