The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected small businesses all over Miami, but so far the hospitality industry has suffered the most crippling blows.
After Miami-Dade closed all bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery, businesses quickly attempted to pivot to stay afloat. And they aren't alone: The NPD Group, a Chicago-based analytics firm, reports that U.S. restaurant customer transactions declined by 8 percent during the week ending March 15. Two full-service segments, casual dining and midscale/family dining, showed declines of 22 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
Not surprisingly, a coalition of national and regional restaurants launched a campaign to make a dent in the damage.
The premise of yesterday's "Great American Takeout": Encourage Americans to order at least one meal for takeout or delivery, then tag pics of their food with #thegreatamericantakeout on social media.
It was a public relations effort devised by people from big-name chains like Panera Bread, Noodles & Company, Veggie Grill, El Torito, Jason’s Deli, Lemonade, Modern Market, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Tocaya Organica, Torchy’s Tacos, the Habit Burger Grill, and Chevys Fresh Mex.
But Miamians shouldn't allow the aroma of chain-restaurant profiteering to stop us from adopting the practice as our daily mantra during this crisis. All restaurants, chain or non-, employ (and lay off) local workers. The more people inspired to pick up a few sandwiches and help to keep the lights on and the paychecks coming at their favorite local spot, the better.
New Times continues to update our growing list of Miami restaurants offering takeout and delivery. Additionally, we've highlighted some of the establishments offering special deals for takeout customers.
Because there's no reason a Great Miami Takeout can't happen on any day.
A few reminders before you call your favorite restaurant to place an order: Delivery services may be reducing or waiving fees for customers, but they're still charging restaurants up to 30 percent commission, so consider picking up your meal. Social-distancing practices like curbside service are becoming increasingly common. And be prepared to pay with a card, because restaurants are going cashless.
And remember to tip generously. Maybe buy yourself some gift cards for later use. And be patient and forgiving of the inevitable glitches. Restaurant owners are simultaneously struggling to stay in business and to feed us. We're all in this together.
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