5 Ways to Find Resources and Support for Your Restaurant During COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted many businesses and taken an economic toll on America.

Almost no industry has been as profoundly affected as the restaurant and foodservice industry. Restaurant business is hurting, and many restaurant-owners are seeking assistance and support. If you’re a restaurant owner looking for resources, here are 5 places to explore.

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We are living in unprecedented times. Under stay-at-home orders, many restaurants experienced business loss and are now facing a tough economic landscape as we navigate how to reopen. That said, there are many ways that restaurants have rallied and stepped up to the plate—from increasing curbside pickup and no contact delivery options to finding creative ways to garner support from their patrons.

Here in the Midwest, we love the food industry. Wisconsin and Indiana are famous for their delicious foods (and beverages, of course). There’s nothing that stirs the hearts of Midwesterners quite like a Friday fish fry, old fashioneds, cheese curds, frozen custard, beer, or a delicious pork tenderloin sandwich. We’re known for comfort foods, and there’s never been a time when restaurant patrons needed comfort like right now!

This love of food means that the restaurant industry will continue to see support from the community. We want our restaurants to stay afloat. Moreover, we want our local restaurants to thrive. So, if you’re seeking help, here are 5 places you should turn for restaurant support and assistance!

1. Your City & County Government

City and state governments are working hard to provide restaurant support during the COVID pandemic

Many business owners are feeling unsure about governmental responses to the pandemic. But whether or not you agree with your state and local government’s approach to the situation, they are still a valuable resource as you navigate the new normal of COVID-19.

As many cities and states have started to reopen businesses including restaurants and local government is crucial for guiding and navigating the rules. The lay of the land is changing rapidly, so it’s important to check with your municipality regularly to stay up on the latest guidance.

The local health department, Governor, Mayor, City Council, and other offices may provide newsletters and guidance about ordinances in place. Signing up for email and notifications will help you stay on top of the latest information you need to guide your approach. Local news sources can also provide helpful information and guidance, so follow trusted outlets regularly.

If you want to get involved, reach out to local officials to express your concerns and urge them to enact measures to protect restaurants and other local businesses. Local officials know their constituents are hurting but expressing your opinions and sharing your voice helps to underscore the needs of the industry.

2. Restaurant Affinity Groups

There are several restaurant-owner support and affinity groups; the most well known is the National Restaurant Association. Not only is the Restaurant Association lobbying lawmakers to enact more economic support and protection for restaurant owners, but they also offer many helpful resources on their website.

The National Restaurant Association has created a blueprint for economic recovery, which they’ve shared with legislators, urging them to pass additional stimulus and protection for food service workers. This protection includes the Restaurant and Food Industry Recover Fund (RFIRF), additional PPP funding, tax credits, and Economic Industry Disaster Loans (EIDL). Restaurant owners should familiarize themselves with these plans, and reach out to local lawmakers to encourage them to support these measures. Experts estimate that the industry could face up to $240 billion in losses by the end of 2020. Now is the time to get active.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition is another organization that serves smaller restaurants. Localized restaurant affinity groups like the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association support small restaurants and feature many resources on their websites to help restaurant owners find state support to stay in business. These resources will also help you know how to plan your reopening and the next steps as we go forward.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is also an excellent resource for restaurant-owners seeking guidance on appropriate safety measures. They have recently released their decision tree guide, to help restaurant owners navigate when and how to reopen. The guidelines change as they learn more about this illness, so it’s essential to check the information regularly.

3. Business Associations

Business and restaurant associations are working hard to provide vital resources for restaurants during the COVID 19 pandemicBusiness groups like your city’s Chamber of Commerce also offer resources and support for restaurants in the area. This may be especially important support if you are a smaller independent or “mom and pop” restaurant.

Your local Rotary Club and entrepreneur groups may also be good resources. One nice aspect of these “mixed” business groups is that you can often pool your ideas and support each other without competition. For example, a local retailer may offer to carry your restaurant gift cards. It’s all about building your network and working together to play off the strengths of the group.

Business associations often have one common goal in mind—strengthening the local economy. In this time of uncertainty and turmoil, this is a goal we can all stand behind. Becoming part of the “larger picture” may help you find support for your restaurant in new and innovative ways.

4. Your Insurance Carrier & Legal Counsel

Your general liability insurance carrier is another useful resource for guidance during this uncertain time. Many insurance companies like The Hartford, Farmer’s Insurance, and others are offering plenty of resources and support for their customers.

Insurance carriers have a vested interest in helping you mitigate risk and protect your staff and customers from danger. They want to help their clients stay in business and thriving. This means your insurance agent is a great guide to help you figure out the right way to minimize your risk and operate safely.

In a similar vein, legal counsel is expensive but almost always worth the price when it comes to navigating your liability concerns. If you’re worried about changing employee policies, opening to customers, and protecting assets like your liquor license, legal counsel will help you navigate smoothly. You may have used legal advice when you opened your restaurant, so as you reopen in the new normal, it follows that legal advice is warranted.

5. Community Support

Communities are lining up to support restaurants in any way they can during the COVID-19 pandemic

We’ve seen the many ways communities have rallied around restaurants to show their support in the past few months. Restaurants are feeling the love as patrons purchase gift cards, proudly order takeout, and promote their favorite dining spots on social media.

This support and togetherness will likely continue as the pandemic wears on and as we begin to reopen. Restaurants must connect with their clientele and offer plenty of opportunities and ways to receive community support. This may mean strengthening your online ordering system, improving your website and social media presence, and continuing to apply the lessons we’ve learned over the last several months.

Recognize that different people feel comfortable supporting businesses in various ways right now. Some patrons may be ready to dine outdoors or visit your restaurant as soon as it’s open (provided you’ve put proper dining room distancing measures in place). Other restaurant diners will need time to adjust to the new normal. Offering gift cards and curbside pickup is a great way to appeal to everyone.

As we begin the cautious transition back into business, there will be a learning curve to figure out the next “new” normal. This situation will evolve in the next few months, so it’s important to continue adapting. With a proactive approach, you’ll protect your restaurant and keep your business afloat!

Reliable Water Services is Here for You

Hot water is critical to health, sanitation, and safety in general, but it’s especially vital to the industries we serve—and the majority of those industries are considered essential businesses. As our customers remain operational during these unprecedented times, so does Reliable Water Services.

Making sure our customers have hot water has always been our main priority, and now more than ever, we are here for you. We will continue to provide 24/7 water heater services to our customers, ensuring you have the hot water your business relies on. Our office team is practicing social distancing by working remotely, while our service technicians and installing contractors are following extra safety guidelines to ensure they can service your building safely without putting themselves or your staff members at risk.

Our team at RWS has always viewed the relationship with each of our customers as a partnership. Through this partnership, we will work together and get through these unique and challenging times. As always, should you need service contact us 24/7 at 1-800-356-1444. Stay safe, and be well!