The holiday season is here and small businesses, particularly restaurants, need all the help they can get.
Many have had to close their doors a second time as coronavirus cases soar and more states implement more stringent shutdown measures.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” said Alejandro Landa, a server at his family’s diner in Denver.
Last week, Landa’s family had to decrease its indoor dining capacity from 50 percent to zero as the state implemented its “code red” COVID-19 lockdown, which only allows for limited outdoor dining, while also allowing to-go and delivery orders.
He says the family learned that tips on any take out orders are a big help. Most servers rely on them for most of their income.
“This is all we have right now,” said Landa. “It’s a family restaurant. It’s just my mom, my two sisters, and my grandma at home. It’s all we have, and we really need to keep it up because there’s no other place to go.”
Other restaurants suggest checking to see if gift cards are available. Purchasing one can give the establishment a quick influx of cash, while offering the guest a dining experience once things return to normal once more.
“When our GM said we won’t be able to do dine-in for close to the rest of the year, we’re like that’s crazy talk, this is going to get better,” said Sierra Taruini, an assistant manager at an Italian Eatery. “It hasn’t gotten better. I’m a little biased but I think our food would make for a great gift.”
Tarquini is one of four people on staff at diFranco’s. Typically, the bistro employs 8-10 people, but the initial and subsequent lockdowns have forced them to cut staff to barely stay profitable.
Tarquini says food delivery services such as Uber Eats and Door Dash can give them additional revenue, but she suggests ordering the food from the restaurant’s website directly. Oftentimes, those carrier services charge the restaurants a small fee per order. Tarquini says by calling the restaurant directly, they can save a few additional dollars, and more menu options may be available.
“The phone doesn’t stop and that has really helped me,” said Ron Robinson, owner of Gaetano’s, an upscale Italian restaurant.
Robinson says he never tried takeout before COVID because his dishes are made fresh and transporting them with the same quality can be difficult. Ever since he adjusted as a way to stay in business, however, he says people have shown massive support as they order directly from him for date nights and other occasions.
“I had a guy the other night come in and get eight martinis to go,” said Robinson. “You know, they buy bottles of wine to go, so every little bit helps.”
Robinson says if a restaurant offers alcohol, ordering a craft cocktail to go is beneficial. He says it allows restaurants to use and order more alcohol, which can be difficult since many of their bars are closed. He also says it can create more ambiance for a special event.