What’s a dining writer to do when there’s nowhere to dine? These are tough times, and the hospitality industry is taking the biggest economic hit. Here are three ways you can support your favorite bar or restaurant, even if you can’t do it in person.
Order to go. No, you won’t be able to join friends and dine in for now. But if you’re comfortable doing so, you can enjoy a restaurant’s food (and cocktails!) via delivery or carryout.
An Instagram check on the day of this writing shows that most Houston-area restaurants that I follow (and that’s a lot) are offering either their full menu or a limited subset of it. Some, such as Georgia James, are creating family-style meals to take home for dinner or to freeze and enjoy later.
Want your feast delivered? Aggregator services, such as DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats are still available for you. Some restaurants have their own delivery services. Check the restaurant’s website for details.
Cocktails? Yes, as long as they are accompanied by a food order and served in grocery-sealed containers. Many restaurants are offering pre-mixed cocktails in larger batches (serving two to six), which makes economic sense.
Tip your bartender! So, you can get cocktails to go to many restaurants. However, Governor Abbott hasn’t extended that courtesy to bars. So, the bars, and the people who serve your drinks and good times, have no income.
It may require some digging, but if you know your bartender’s name or cell phone number, you can search the various payment apps (Venmo, Zelle, etc.) to see if they have an account. (Or just ask them if they have one, or the bar has one.) Then send them a few dollars along with a note of gratitude and support. It would definitely brighten their day!
Or, as a meme so proudly posted by Danny Ryan (of George) proclaims, “All of you who are about to see your service industry friends naked on the internet, don’t say shit, just donate and move along!”
Go grocery shopping — at your favorite restaurant. According to CultureMap, “Some Houston restaurants that are struggling from lost revenue due to governmental restrictions on dining out are… becoming grocery stores.” Of sorts.
You can stop by the restaurants to pick up a necessarily limited number of gourmet and staple items, along with any dishes the establishment is offering on a to-go basis. See “These popular Houston restaurants are now selling grocery items” for a list of restaurants as of March 20.
(Let me put a word in for one of my favorite restaurant/grocers, Urban Eats. The downstairs Epicurean Market offers a well-curated stock of specialty foods. Suppliers such as Kraftsmen Baking and Klein Bros. give the market a local flavor.)
The hospitality industry has been good to us and it’s time for us to be good to them. And tip as if their life depended on it. Because it may!