Food & Drink

How You Can Support Dallas Restaurants During COVID-19 Precautions

Our daily lives are changing on a moment-to-moment basis as quarantines, mass closures and other safety measures sweep the nation. Every industry will be impacted severely, but perhaps few as significantly as restaurants and bars where servers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers and other staff members don't have the option to “work from home.” As of now, food-and-beverage establishments in Dallas are still open for business and working on solutions to keep their doors open and their employees paid. Nearly every business owner we interviewed, including dozens not mentioned in this story, cited a steep drop in sales; here are some immediate ways you can help keep your favorite hangouts around for the long-term, without putting yourself at risk.

Order your meals to-go

Thousands of restaurants are already part of app-based delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Favor, and Grubhub, and many more are adding delivery/take-out offerings as COVID-19 continues to change the way we eat. Ordering from one of these services also benefits the delivery drivers, who need to keep income rolling in as well. If you're worried about those delivery fees, note that Uber Eats has announced it will be suspending fees for independently owned restaurants (i.e., not McDonald's). 

Businesses that process a huge amount of delivery orders can be a good example for new-to-delivery businesses to follow, highlighting best practices that will help ensure the safety of everyone on both sides of a transaction. For ZaLat Pizza, these include using tamper-proof safety tape on pizza boxes and tripling wipe-downs of all surfaces. “Because ZaLat Pizza has always had extremely high delivery volumes to begin with... we have posted large driver safety checklists," said Khanh Nguyen, CEO of ZaLat and neighboring DaLat. "It includes our recommendation for contactless deliveries: Please leave the food at the door, ring the doorbell, step 10 feet away, and inform the customer that you’re doing contactless deliveries for everyone’s safety.”

Use the drive-thru or curbside pickup

The easiest way to avoid the general public in a restaurant is, well, to not go into the restaurant. Many restaurants offer curbside pickup, but any place with a drive-thru can be an ideal way to prevent unnecessary interaction.

Purchase gift cards

Many restaurants offer gift-card purchasing online, but some smaller establishments do not. Call your favorite restaurant to see if they have gift cards in-store; if they do, they should be more than willing to take an order for one over the phone and either mail it directly to you or have it ready and waiting for pickup now or at a future date.

“If you really want to support us, then buy lots and lots of gift cards that can be redeemed when we are all COVID-19 free!” Uno Immanivong, chef/owner of Red Stix Asian Street Food posted to Facebook on March 15. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love... and this is just one road bump of many life will throw out. All we can do is look fear in the eye and say you don’t scare me and then elbow (or toe) bump it.”

Buy official merch online

If a restaurant or bar has a following, odds are it's got official merchandise available for sale. T-shirts, hats, glassware, and posters are all likely candidates, and in lieu of actually purchasing food at your favorite restaurant, you can show your support by shelling out for a piece of merch. Even if your favorite restaurant doesn't have a web store where you can buy online, they might have merchandise for sale in-person; give them a call and let them know you want to pitch in!

Leave reviews on Google or Yelp

It's a less direct method than giving actual money, but local businesses increasingly rely on the buzz generated by online reviews to sustain themselves these days. If you've had a great meal or drink (or experience) somewhere, even if it was a while ago, taking the time to write up a positive review can absolutely make a difference. 

Stay informed

If you have any questions about what measures your favorite restaurants and watering holes are taking, visit their web sites and social media channels for the latest updates on closures, delivery options, and more. Together we’ll get through this and eventually raise our glasses to toast the triumph over COVID-19 in these very same establishments.

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Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor.