This is a guest post by Elizabeth Tilton, founder and CEO of Oyster Sunday
All across the US, restaurants are being forced to lay off their staff, close their businesses and make heartbreaking decisions in hopes to weather the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At my company, Oyster Sunday, we are committed to supporting independent restaurants with in-kind consultations to ensure they have another resource in their corner during these unimaginably trying times. From communicating with your team, to pro-bono legal counsel, to thinking through cash flow constraints, please contact us. Beyond our leadership team, we are connected with a remarkable community of professionals (including lawyers, PR professionals, accountants, CPAs, copywriters and more) who have generously offered to donate their time and resources to restaurants that need help navigating this crisis.
In challenging moments, creative measures and alternative paths are essential. As a result, we have been working around the clock to pull resources so that restaurants have the information they need to make these incredibly difficult decisions about labor, financials, compliance and, in the future, how best to open their doors. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most important information, all of which is available in more detail on our website.
Food+Tech Connect has also created database of resources for people working across the food system who are impacted by this crisis. Please peruse and add you resources to the database.
Everyone understands the critical importance of safety during this crisis, and below are two key resources to share with your teams.
Now more than ever, clear messaging is key, and restaurants have a direct line to not only their employees, but also their customers. Operators should ensure they are communicating clearly with their team and customers about topics including changing offerings, hours, and safety measures on all applicable platforms: website, email listserv, social media, and on-premise signage. If you need help communicating with your team and / or guests, we’re here to help.
Although many restaurants around the US have closed, restaurants that continue to operate can utilize pickup and delivery to continue service. Alternatively, operators can turn to alternative revenue sources such as selling gift cards, merchandise, dining bonds to be redeemed upon re-opening, and creating GoFundMe campaigns.
Pickup + Delivery
Restaurants across the country are still open and offering pickup and/or delivery, enabling them to continue to bring in revenue while maintaining the health and safety of their employees and customers. Some state liquor authorities are now allowing restaurants off-premises privileges for licensed businesses with on-premises privileges, as long as the alcohol is sold in conjunction with food.While delivery services like Grubhub and UberEats are deferring fees to restaurants, this doesn’t mean they’re waiving fees entirely and the fine print has been difficult to navigate. You can read more about this on Eater.
Gift Cards + Merch
Restaurants are encouraging customers to purchase gift cards, and some are even selling “dining bonds,” reduced price gift certificates that can be redeemed for a greater value at a later date.. With the purchase of a gift card or bond, some restaurants are also offering an invite to their re-opening party when the time comes.
Your teams are the heartbeat of the industry, but we understand that safeguarding the future of your business is requiring you to make enormously difficult decisions. The goal is to balance your team’s immediate needs while ensuring they will have a job and a community to return to in the months to come.
While we understand that many restaurants have already had to lay off their teams so that they can start collecting unemployment, we have outlined different options for those who have yet to make these decisions for salaried and hourly employees. To help understand the differences, you can read more here.
This crisis is impacting the bottom line for restaurants in unimaginable ways. It is critical to understand how much cash you have available, what the next few weeks look like (we recommend budgeting up to 12 weeks out, if possible), and what fixed costs you can immediately reduce to help free up available cash.
A number of associations and non-profit organizations are offering business loans and grants to restaurants. This is a comprehensive list of from Gusto outlining available COVID-19 resources for small businesses on federal, state, and local levels, as well as assistance being offered by private companies. You can also read more information on our website, and we have outlined a few key loans below.
If you’re looking for donation opportunities to help those affected, we have information on relief funds, organizations accepting food donations, and more on our website. [link to Food Donation Opportunities]
Restaurateurs and their guests are banding together to save America’s restaurants. Below are links to petitions you can sign, as well as information on how to call your local representatives, mayors, and governors to ensure your voice is heard. We’re all in this together.
To emphasize the importance of giving restaurants a stake in upcoming emergency relief funds. Below are local representatives for New York City + New Orleans, but all numbers are available to the public online. Sample Call Script is here.
Congressional Reps and Senators | 202-224-3121
[NY] Governor Cuomo | 518-474-8390
[NYC] Mayor Bill de Blasio | 311 or 212-NEW-YORK
[LA] Governor Edwards | 225-342-7015
[NOLA] Mayor Cantrell | 504-658-4900
For more information + an in-kind consultation, please visit us at Oyster Sunday or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About OS | Oyster Sunday is a company based in New Orleans and New York City with the mission to reimagine the infrastructure necessary to build stable, progressive businesses in the hospitality industry.
Elizabeth is the founder of Oyster Sunday, an operating system for independent restaurants based in New Orleans and New York City with the mission to reimagine the infrastructure necessary to build stable, progressive businesses in the hospitality industry. Prior to Oyster Sunday, Elizabeth started her carrier as a pastry cook in New Orleans and moved to NYC to join the team at Momofuku. On the Public Relations and Marketing team at Momofuku. she helped manage public relations and marketing for Momofuku’s New York restaurants and major partnerships for the restaurant group. After Momofuku, Elizabeth was the Head of Brand at W&P, a vertically-integrated design and manufacturing company developing culinary products, managing the launch of over 300 products including product partnerships with Lucas Films, Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, and Food52.