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Better Together: Creating Community in a Time of Need

Photograph: Shutterstock

There is no way to sugarcoat this: 2020 has dealt the restaurant industry a solid blow. The bruises that COVID-19 has inflicted are going to take a while to recover from. But, with operators nationwide showing resilience and a community-minded spirit, recovery is on the horizon.

While these uncertain times have been anxiety-inducing for operators across the industry, many have used these hardships as a catalyst for creativity, adaptation and change. This tenacity helps them find ways to turn an awful situation into a win for everybody. This is seen in the incredibly creative ways that businesses are giving back to their communities while also generating revenue for their restaurants.

Popular pizza restaurant Howdy's Texas Grill'd Pizza in College Station, Texas did a 180-degree pivot when the coronavirus hit. CEO Michael Cody explained, “We quickly realized that with numerous business shutdowns and children out of school, many people in our community were going to struggle to feed their family. We knew we would come out of this better together, so our immediate response was to connect with our community and find ways to serve them. For us, it was about surviving AND serving!”

The restaurant decided to offer kid’s meals for half the normal price to ensure local children could have high-quality meals. The results have exceeded the restaurant’s expectations, selling over 4,000 kid’s meals to date. The company also created an inexpensive senior meal and waived delivery fees to Senior Centers.

Cairo2Go, an Egyptian restaurant in Morgantown, WV wanted to thank the essential employees who were working hard to keep the business afloat and donated 90 meals to feed an entire department at the FedEx distribution center. Owner Ahmed Abdelrehim explained, “My delivery drivers kept telling me how underappreciated they felt, and I kept telling them that without their delivering my daily supplies, such as to-go boxes, I wouldn’t be able to run my business.”

Other small businesses are finding ways to impact their communities as well:

  • Darryl Dueltgen, owner of Wyckoff, New Jersey-based Italian restaurant Pizza Love, is offering a free slice of cheese pizza for kids and is helping elderly community residents with essential needs.
  • Yavonne Sarber, owner of Agave & Rye, a multi-city handcrafted cocktail and modern Taco restaurant in Kentucky, created a program to help provide healthcare workers with latex gloves.
  • Kathleen Mania-Casey, owner of Grilled Cheese Mania in Harrisonburg, VA, created a Pay it Forward campaign where her customers can purchase sandwiches for frontline workers in the area.

This spirit of giving and community isn’t lost on big businesses either. Procter & Gamble (P&G) has stepped up to be a force for good with many of its brands giving back in a big way. P&G Professionalis a founding partner of the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which helps restaurant employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fabric care brand Tide is utilizing its Tide Loads of Hope Powered by Tide Cleanersprogram to provide free laundry and dry-cleaning services to the families of front line responders at Tide Cleaners locations throughout the U.S. And hair care brand Pantene donated $500,000 to Feeding America and $100,000 to Foodbanks Canada to help families facing food insecurities.

It’s inspiring to see companies, both big and small, put their own needs aside for a moment to make huge pivots in their businesses and help support their communities. They have shown that businesses can both survive and serve.

This post is sponsored by P&G Professional

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