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Small businesses are doing everything they can to overcome the economic hurdles created by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is clear that every business will be impacted in some way, but restaurants and bars have been hit especially hard—and suddenly— by the pandemic.
While chains like Denny’s and IHOP have the cash reserves in place to pay workers—even during the shutdown—small, non-chain restaurants across the country were left feeling abandoned and desperate when faced with mandated closures. In response to the crisis, a slew of programs, grants, and resources have begun to take shape, along with a regularly updated Hospitality Industry Alliance COVID-19 Facebook group. Here are a few of the solutions we think will be most helpful for owners of restaurants, bars, and other small businesses:
The Dining Bonds Initiative
To help ensure the survival of restaurants across the country—many of which are family-owned—the PR industry has banded together to create a campaign called “Dining Bonds.” These bonds work just like savings bonds, where guests can purchase a bond at a value rate today, to be redeemed for full face value in the future. The dining bonds are being offered by participating restaurants across the country at a suggested savings of 25% when purchased.
A dedicated website, www.supportrestaurants.org, allows diners to search for and connect with participating restaurants while also letting restaurants sign on to the program. Transactions can then be handled directly between customers and restaurants, with individual restaurants setting their terms and conditions and fulfilling the transactions. Owners can register their restaurant here.
National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association has a COVID-19 page on its website, which directs restaurants to the Small Business Administration, which announced that it would work with state governments to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses severely impacted by the outbreak. You can find out more about these loans and how to access them here.
Restaurant reservation and rewards platform Seated launched a hotline for restaurant operators to get advice from a team of industry professionals from CohnReznick, the leading finance and accounting advisor to the hospitality industry, and Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe, the leading law firm to the hospitality industry.
Restaurant operators in need of advice can visit seatedhotline.com and submit questions. Seated is further offering a complimentary hour of individualized professional business advice via phone to any of its nearly 1,500 restaurant partners or any restaurant that may wish to become a Seated partner.
Yelp is offering $25 million in relief, primarily focused on supporting independent local restaurant and nightlife businesses, in the form of waived advertising fees, and free advertising, products, and services.
As part of this relief effort, restaurants and nightlife businesses that remain open will receive free access to Yelp page upgrades, including Business Highlights and Call To Action, as well as Connect, which will help them communicate timely information to their customers. Restaurants will also receive three months of free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist.
For restaurant clients that offer delivery and/or takeout, they will provide $100 in free search advertising. In addition to waiving advertising fees for independent restaurant and nightlife clients during this period, they are also offering support for independent local advertisers in other categories that are struggling to pay their bills.
We’re just beginning to understand the public health impact of COVID-19, and it’s difficult to gauge how restaurants, specifically, will be impacted over the coming months. What we do know is that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the effects of the public’s response will impact all businesses, including the hard-working owners, operators, farmers, delivery drivers, staff, and just about everyone in the food industry.
If you are a business owner in need of additional funding from the effects of COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more information.
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