As a restaurant owner or manager, you’ve both seen and been through a lot, even before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The restaurant business is tough and now you’re confronting challenges you’ve never experienced before.
You’re not alone. Thousands of restaurants across the country are facing challenges such as restrictions on serving dine-in customers, severely reduced income, and difficult staffing decisions.
But there’s still hope. This article summarizes what you can do both within and outside of the GroupRaise platform to increase cash flow and make it through these trying times. Keep reading to learn more about resources for restaurants such as:
At GroupRaise, we see restaurants as pillars of the communities they serve, bringing people together over delicious meals. As we all weather the pandemic and its fallout, it’s more important now than ever to lend support where we can and keep our communities strong.
That’s why GroupRaise has taken measures to make it easier for restaurants to communicate with fundraising groups and continue to welcome customers with restaurant fundraisers, whether that’s via takeout, delivery, or curb-side pickup orders. Now, you can:
- Communicate with organizers with cancelled events. If you accepted an event request, but then the group didn’t get 20 RSVPs or the group cancelled, you can now send a message to the organizer via Event Messenger. If your restaurant is still able to do restaurant fundraisers – even via takeout or delivery – let the organizer know and see if they would still like to hold their fundraiser.
- Reschedule for a later date. Similar to the situation above, if you accepted an event request, but then the event got cancelled, you can also coordinate with organizers to reschedule for a date in the future. Once you’ve agreed upon your new date, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get it changed on the GroupRaise platform.
- Spread the word about supporting restaurants. Pass this blog post along to any other restaurant managers you know and share our other recent post about how fundraising organizers can support local restaurants at this time – with or without GroupRaise fundraisers.
In response to the pandemic, the federal government, state governments, nonprofits, various companies, and even individuals are stepping up to offer financial resources for restaurants impacted by coronavirus. Read on to learn more about financing options and sources for more information.
General Support and Resources
- Financing and additional financial support from state and local governments – Many state and local governments have recently announced new loans, grants, payroll cost coverage, funds for rent, and deferred tax payments for small businesses impacted by coronavirus. For example, small businesses in New York City with fewer than 100 employees and a 25% or more revenue decrease can access loans up to $75,000 through NYC Small Business Services. The city is also offering grants to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months for businesses with five or fewer employees. Refer to your state or city’s website for more information about programs specific to your area. This spreadsheet by Oyster Sunday and Gusto summarizes COVID-19 Loan + Relief Resources for Small Businesses by state and from private companies.
- Extended tax deadlines – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the deadline for federal income tax filing and federal income tax payments for all taxpayers from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020, with no penalties or interest on the deferred payments. Many states are following the example of the IRS in extending tax filing deadlines. Check the website of your state for announcements and up-to-date information. Here is a list of state government websites and their tax-related departments.
- More information and links to resources for restaurants
- National Restaurant Association – In addition to their Coronavirus Information and Resources page, check out your state’s restaurant association or similar organization. Here is a list of state restaurant associations. On your state’s association website, you can find state-specific coronavirus-related announcements, lists of relief resources for restaurants, webinars, and additional guidance.
- Oyster Sunday – COVID-19 Resources (comprehensive)
- Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation – Resources for Restaurants and Workers Coping with the COVID-19 Emergency
- Forbes – Small Business Relief Tracker: Funding, Grants And Resources For Business Owners Grappling With Coronavirus
- Eater.com – A List of Relief Funds for Restaurants, Bars, and Food Service Workers
Small Business Loans
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans – The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering emergency low-interest loans for up to $2 million to small businesses. As of March 23, 2020, all small business owners in the US and its territories can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan due to coronavirus. Learn more and apply within the Disaster Loan Assistance section of the website.
- Loans through nonprofits and companies
- Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation – In addition to funding direct relief for individual workers and donating to nonprofits helping restaurant workers, the foundation will be offering zero-interest loans for restaurants. Sign up for their newsletter to be notified when they open loan applications.
- MainVest’s Main Street Initiative – The crowdfunding platform is offering $2,000, zero-interest, 120-day loans for restaurants or other businesses with physical locations.
- Opportunity Fund – The nonprofit microfinance organization is offering loans to small businesses impacted by coronavirus.
- Loans from Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) – CDFIs are credit unions, banks, loan funds, and venture capital funds that are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to be driven by the mission to serve low-income communities. You can access a list of certified institutions and their contact info on this FAQ page.
- James Beard Foundation – This nonprofit established a Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund to provide micro-grants to independent small businesses in the food and beverage industry.
- Facebook – The social media giant has dedicated $100 million to grants and ad credits for small businesses influenced by coronavirus.
- Amazon – The company has set up a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund with cash grants for small businesses in Seattle.
- Yelp – The directory and review website has dedicated $25 million to coronavirus relief via waived advertising fees and free advertising, products, and services for independent restaurants and nightlife businesses.
- Southern Smoke Foundation – This nonprofit is providing funding for individual restaurant workers in crisis, with priority for medical emergencies.
In addition to the financial aid resources listed above, there are operational steps you can take in the short term to increase your cash flow while dine-in options are restricted. Here’s what we recommend:
- Offer gift certificates/cards. Sign up for a free account with GroupRaise’s partner Kabbage, a platform for gift certificates and small business loans. Through the gift certificate program, restaurants receive the sales from gift certificate purchases as early as the next day. Learn more here. Note: GroupRaise is not profiting from this recommendation – we just want to help spread the word.
- Consider accepting takeout, delivery, and curb-side pickup orders, if it’s possible for your business. Once you have your system in place, make sure people know about it! If you don’t already have your own delivery system, look into the delivery companies below. All of the companies listed here have made no-contact delivery available and have either reduced, deferred, or waived commission fees on restaurants (see specifics below).
- Doordash / Caviar – waiving commission fees for restaurants for pickup orders, waiving commission fees for independent restaurants new to the platform for 30 days after signup
- Uber Eats – waiving delivery fees for all independent restaurants, paying restaurants daily instead of weekly
- Grubhub – temporarily suspending collection of $100 million in fees for independent restaurants
- Postmates – temporarily waiving commission fees for San Francisco Bay area businesses
- Seamless – deferring fees for independent restaurants
- Host restaurant takeout fundraisers. Even if your state still bans dine-in service, you can continue to attract large group orders with takeout fundraisers. For example, a local Mexican restaurant in Washington state earned $1,400 in total sales at one of their fundraisers in late March 2020 – learn more about their story here.
- Sell merchandise. The possibilities are endless in terms of custom product ideas: t-shirts, hats, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more. There are plenty of online platforms that supply custom products. Bonfire allows you to sell t-shirts with no inventory. You can also sell long-term food items such as coffee beans, hot chocolate mix, jam, or house-made barbecue sauce.
- Ask for donations. Sometimes the simplest way to get some extra cash is to just ask. Set up a crowdfunding page for your restaurant on a platform such as GoFundMe and share it with your social media followers. You can also find financial help for restaurants and individual workers through virtual tip jars – city-specific lists of restaurants, their workers, and information to make a deposit through Venmo, CashApp, or Paypal. Existing lists include Indianapolis, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin. If there isn’t a list yet for your city, consider creating one.
With a combination of the resources listed above, your restaurant can make it through this crisis. GroupRaise, your communities, your customers – we all want you to succeed!
Updated March 24, 2020