Food & Drink

How to Support Vegas Restaurants During the Coronavirus Closures

Las Vegas is built on hospitality. When travel effectively halts and the entire events and entertainment industries are decimated overnight, this city -- with a population over two million, 300,000 of which are directly employed in the hospitality industry -- hurts badly, and every person who lives here hurts with it. Even in the best of times, restaurants have razor-thin margins that are at the mercy of factors they can’t control, and during economic downturns they are among the first and worst hit.

The simple fact is, when life in Las Vegas starts to take on some semblance of "normal" at the end of this pandemic, some of your favorite restaurants and bars are simply not going to reopen. It's not all doom and gloom, however: there are ways that we, the consumers, can pitch in to help vulnerable businesses and individuals get through these unprecedented times. Here are some of them:

Keep ordering your breakfast, lunch, and dinner

You probably panic-shopped like everyone else, but now that you have all those dried beans and fruit snacks, do you even know what to do with them? The good news is, delivery services like Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, ChowNow, and Menufy are all still operating. Uber Eats has also waived their delivery fees for independently owned restaurants, so you can order with the comfort of knowing that the delivery partner isn't further eating into their small profit.

All of the remaining restaurants, bars, and coffeehouses that are still open are offering carryout and delivery. You can order directly through their own apps and websites, through a third-party service, or just call them directly and place your order for carryout or delivery. Many offer their own free delivery service, and many others are offering curbside pick-up so you don’t even have to step foot outside of your car. Pizza Rock is calling it their "pizza valet," available only at the Downtown location. For specifics, check out our full list of restaurants that are still open for carryout and delivery.

Also order boxed meals, meal plans, and meal prep packages

Las Vegas restaurants have been very inventive in the face of this crisis, offering boxed meals and pre-ordered meal plans for carryout and delivery. Some of them you might not even expect, like the exquisite modern French restaurant in Chinatown, Partage, which is now offering full lunch and dinner menus that change each day that you can order by the day or by the week (must order the day before to receive the next day's delivery). Others include:

  • Honey Salt in Summerlin is offering full family-style meals that feed four (choose from one of five dinner packages). 
  • Both Café Lola locations are offering "Lola To Go" boxed meals with a number of different options that include pastries, toasts, and sandwiches. 
  • At Cornish Pasty Co., you can order hot food as well as frozen pasties for later. The Palm Las Vegas is offering prepared food OR cook-at-home items, as well as 25% off food and 50% off wine until March 31. 
  • Meal Prep Las Vegas is still delivering their "foodie fit" healthy meal plans. 
  • Paina Cafe is offering Ohana Family Pack Meals that include stews, rice, potatoes, salad, and dessert. 
  • Pizza Rock now has pizza meal kits available to make at home.
  • Locale Italian Kitchen is offering mix-and-match combo meals that include soups, salads, panini, pasta, pizza, antipasti, entrees, and sides.
  • You can order bento boxes from Island Flavor 808, family-style meal trays from Bonanno's New York Pizzeria, and all-day combo specials from Trattoria Nakamura-Ya.  

You can even order booze! 

Garagiste is open for curbside pickup of their wonderful selection of small-scale, sustainable wines, as well as their cheese and charcuterie plates, and they've also partnered with Paradise Creamery to sell their vegan ice creams by the pint (check their website and social accounts for available dates). They'll also soon be offering vegetable and fruit boxes from Cured & Whey.

Both Aces & Ales locations are still selling food, beer by the bottle (they're known for their extensive collection of limited, rare, and white whale craft beers), and growler fills for pickup and delivery, and all pickup orders will receive a 50% discount on growler fills and pizzas, as well as $2 off all appetizers (not available with delivery). 

Contribute to a tip pool 

All over the country, people are setting up Venmo tip pools and GoFundMe pages specifically created to support the service workers who will be hurt by this the most. You can find the Las Vegas Virtual Tip Jar here, or request to be added to it here. You can also support local servers and bartenders through the national tip jar Go Tip 'Em. Even as restaurants continue some emaciated form of operation with a skeletal staff, those servers who once relied on your dine-in tips are facing incredible financial hardship and uncertainty.

If you're curious about other ways to support displaced workers and struggling small businesses during this time, Food & Wine has a great roundup of resources here.

Pay for future meals with gift cards and online contributions 

These places can really use the money now, so show your support today by purchasing gift cards to use at a later time -- it's basically an interest-free loan at a time when they need it the most. You can purchase directly through the restaurant's website or app, or through a third party like ItsOnMe or OpenTable. Also, if your favorite restaurant has an InKind account -- a pretty genius restaurant financing program that works through the support of loyal customers paying for meals in advance -- contribute to that, or suggest that they open one.

Support a business that supports your community 

Even at a time when everyone is struggling and scrambling, some businesses are going above and beyond.

  • Meal Prep Las Vegas is donating fresh, fully cooked meals to anyone in Clark County who is elderly or immunocompromised in any way.
  • Milk+T is offering free lunch to anyone in need, no questions asked, and is also delivering free boba kits to households with children currently battle cancer. 
  • District One is offering first responders 50% off for curbside pickup and seniors and the disabled 50% off with free delivery (within a 5-mile radius).
  • Aloha Kitchen has been serving free lunch to kids from 2-4pm Monday through Friday.
  • Paradise Creamery is donating $5 from every "Play Pack" purchase during their pop-up at Garagiste to the Las Vegas Sex Worker COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, an extremely vulnerable population that often gets overlooked.
  • Honey Salt has donated hundreds of meals to a new program called "Delivering with Dignity," which supplies meals to the elderly and immuno-compromised and their families living in the same households. 
  • Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared are offering free food for kids. 
  • Buldogis is offering 20% discount to healthcare professionals and first responders for all takeout orders. 
  • Pinkbox Doughnuts is delivering free doughnuts to first responders and healthcare providers and are currently operating 24 hours a day to do so.
  • Cafe Sanuki is offering a free kid's meal with purchase of an adult meal. 
  • Sparrow + Wolf is closed but is currently running the #sparrowandwolfchallenge on Instagram for Las Vegas bartenders: for every cocktail video uploaded with the hashtag, they will donate one meal to a first responder. Their goal is 2,000.

And while they have since closed indefinitely, Esther's Kitchen was previously serving free meals to anyone who had been recently laid off as well as their families, and Stacks & Yolks and Griddle Cakes were serving free meals to children after the Clark County School District closed, putting vulnerable children who depend on school meals to stay fed further at risk.
Though they are currently closed for operations, Jolt Coffee Co. has been making free meals for seniors. Please keep these places in mind and support them with gift cards now, or your patronage later once they reopen. 

Also consider supporting the Just One Project mobile food pantry and Three Square Food Bank, who are working in hyperdrive to ensure that no one in the Las Vegas Valley goes hungry.

Buy bread and fresh baked goods 

Some restaurants are still open in a much more limited capacity, serving only a few very specific items. You can pre-order your fresh-baked breads from Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson as well as Pizzeria Monzu a day in advance, and also order bread and pastries from open bakeries like Café Breizh, La Belle Terre Bakery, Rooster Boy Café, La Luna Tea & Dessert Bar, and Sugar Bees Bakery, among many others.  

Wear your support on your actual sleeve

Buying merchandise is always a good way to support a small business (ditto artists and musicians), and right now that $25 T-shirt or $8 mug is going to go a long way towards helping their bottom line. Check out the merch pages of your favorite places and people, and stock up.

Stay on top of the latest developments through social media

With how rapidly things have been changing on a daily basis, what was true yesterday possibly is no longer true today. Follow the social accounts of your favorite places to keep up on all the latest changes in hours, offerings, and operations. Also, since this is indeed "social" media and it’s really the one of the only forms of social contact still open to us, like and share those posts so more people know who is open and can patronize those businesses, too.

Leave a positive review

Love it or hate it, Yelp (and other reviewing platforms like Google Reviews) can make or break a business. Once this all blows over, these businesses are going to be struggling to get customers back in the door -- lots and lots of positive reviews can help, and you've probably got some free time to spare. 

Make your voice heard

While it's unclear if Change.org petitions ever actually accomplish anything, it can't hurt to try. This one is all about enacting emergency relief measures to save America's restaurants, because we want to see this massive and essential piece of our economy survive this, and also because we're all going to want to go out once it's over. Also, call our Senators and Representatives to demand that restaurants be part of the federal stimulus plan; you can reach the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Sign up here for our daily Vegas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Nicole Rupersburg is a Thrillist contributor.