What’s the Best Way to Make Sure My Favorite Restaurants Stay Open?

An illustration of a woman juggling a steak and a burger

Welcome to Dining Dilemmas, an OpenTable column that aims to address the thornier sides of dining out. What’s with surcharges? How do we eat with a mask on? Are straws totally taboo? Check back for answers to these questions and more about the way we eat now.

Losing a favorite restaurant — those places essential to our communities, celebrations, and daily comforts — can be devastating. It’s likely that one of your beloved spots has already sadly shuttered, and more may follow: OpenTable predicts that 25 percent of restaurants will close as a result of the pandemic. 

So the time is now to do everything possible to keep restaurants open, and the single best way to support restaurants is to continually patronize them. To help with that, challenge yourself to complete this day-by-day guide to the best ways to help your favorite spots. Each day brings a new, easy opportunity to show restaurants your support, from ordering takeout to sharing love on social media. Making a difference has never tasted so good.

Sunday: Buy cute merch.

Restaurant merchandise can be a badge of honor, and proudly sporting some from one of your favorite places not only displays a piece of your personality, but also functions as a walking ad for restaurant support. A lot of places sell hats, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and more directly on their websites — there could even be cookbooks to help you through this winter.

Monday: Order takeout.

Ease into the week with a delicious treat on your couch that also happens to give one of your favorite spots some business. You can now order and pay for takeout meals right in the OpenTable app, so check to see what’s available near you for a night free of doing the dishes.

Tuesday: Contribute to an industry fund.

Restaurants are up against a lot right now, from increased costs for safety precautions to decreased business due to social distancing measures. Show the industry as a whole some support by giving to an organization working to save restaurants. Here are some suggestions: 

  • James Beard Foundation Open for Good Fund: JBF is working on industry rebuilding efforts such as creating resources for restaurateurs, advocating for restaurants, and giving grants to independent restaurants.
  • The LEE Initiative: The LEE Initiative works to turn restaurants across the country into relief centers, simultaneously offering employment opportunities and meals to those in need.
  • World Central Kitchen: WCK distributes individually packaged, nutritious meals — often cooked by restaurants, also helping with employment — to those who need food.

Wednesday: Support the RESTAURANTS Act.

Congress is currently considering the RESTAURANTS Act, a bi-partisan proposal that could give restaurants the lifeline they need through a $120 billion grant program meant to aid independent restaurants with paying rent, employees, and bills. Today, send a pre-written letter to your local representatives urging them to pass this vital legislation.

Thursday: Dine outdoors.

Waterside views and innovative patios are making outdoor dining better than ever right now. Depending on where you live, the window to eat outside will only last a few more months. Take advantage by eating at one of the best restaurants near you with one of the curated guides below. Don’t have a guide near you yet? Simply sort by “outdoor seating” on OpenTable for what’s available in your area.

Friday: Show your love on social media.

Give your Monday and Thursday restaurants of choice a boost by posting pictures of your meal online. Sharing your experiences with friends is not only fun and supportive, but could also inspire them to visit and post about their favorites, too.

Saturday: Make your next reservation.

Congrats on making it through another week! Keep the momentum going by booking your next opportunity to support a restaurant near you — while eating well. Every area has different dining restrictions right now, and it can be hard to know what’s actually open. Easily see what’s available for booking near you on OpenTable’s open hub.

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