Restaurants have been in a precarious position since the start of the pandemic. As the infection rate goes up, lockdown restrictions are tightened and restaurant foot traffic declines. When the infection rate goes down, lockdown restrictions are relaxed and restaurants get a respite from dwindling revenue – until the pendulum swings the other way. 

This turbulent period has led to some establishments shutting down with others in danger of facing a similar fate. Imagine strolling down to your favourite coffee shop for tea and bagels only to find a “Sorry, we’re permanently closed” sign on the door – it’s something every loyal patron dreads. But you don’t have to be powerless in this situation.

If you and everyone else with the means committed to at least one of the following ideas, we might be able to keep our favourite eateries open until this nightmare is over.

Order a daily meal

If you can afford to outsource one of your daily meals to a local restaurant, you’ll be guaranteeing that they will make at least one sale a day. If you order for your entire family, that’s even more sales. You can take it a step further and challenge all your friends to do the same and support local restaurants. Turn it into a fun exercise where you try to taste everything on the menu. Or you and a friend can order for each other and only find out what the meal is when the delivery arrives.

Tip generously

Waitrons survive on their tips and make less money when foot traffic declines. That’s why we’re encouraging all patrons to tip their waitrons generously, maybe even outrageously, if they can afford to. If you usually tipped 20% during The Before Times, consider doubling that percentage to 40%. Not only will you have helped a hard worker in need, but your waitron will be so happy to see you when you return that you’ll receive six-star service without a doubt.

Buy restaurant gift vouchers

Perhaps you’ve toured the entire menu and feel like taking a brief break from your favourite restaurant’s food, but you still want to support local restaurants. Why not buy someone else a meal? Most restaurants offer gift vouchers so you can surprise a friend or family member with a voucher for a three-course meal for two. If they love the establishment as much as you do, they might return and become a loyal patron like you.

Work from a coffee shop once a week

The rise of remote working has given us the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection – and coffee shops are famous for having Wi-Fi that’s as strong as their java. So choose a day when not too much is happening in your work schedule and work from a coffee shop. You’re likely to have a few cups of coffee or tea during the day with snacks in between – all sales the coffee shop wouldn’t have made if you had stayed at home.

Give them a shout-out on social media

You can’t keep a restaurant afloat on your own so you’re going to need recruitments – and plenty of them. Take a picture of your meal every time you buy from a local restaurant and post it on all your social media with a personal message about what makes it or the establishment special.  

People on social media have already been using the #LocalRestaurantLove challenge as a rallying call for all South Africans with the means to support local restaurants when they can. This is the influencer moment you’ve been quietly dreaming about. So don’t miss it!

Author’s note: While Pilot encourages you to help the restaurant industry keep operating during these challenging times, we want you to do so responsibly and observe social distancing guidelines at all times.

Download our e-book about The point of Point of Sale and learn how technology can improve a restaurant’s chances for success.