Due to the COVID-19 emergency, most-if not all-bars and restaurants in the U.S. are currently closed for dine/drink-in service and have either temporary closed or pivoted to pick-up or delivery. Though it’s certainly crucial for the majority of you in non-essential work to STAY HOME, if you get tired (or can’t) of making your own meals/drinks, and want to support local small businesses that you’ve patronized in the past and want to do so again in the future, you will order delivery or pick-up (if you live near H Street in DC, here’s comprehensive guide; if you live elsewhere in the District, here’s a less comprehensive guide)
After reading a lot of articles and reaching out to bars/restaurants, here are some tips below. Some of them may add some time to your process, but it’s important that we get more money in to the hands of these small businesses so they can remain viable.
- There’s no real consensus on whether one is safer: although pick-up may cause you to interact with more people while walking, driving (though curb side pickup is pretty ubiquitous), or biking to your destination, delivery adds another person into the chain (though no-contact delivery is also available). Do what you’re comfortable with-maybe combine your daily exercise to pick-up food for places near your home and deliver for places further.
- Download the Toast TakeOut, ChowNow, GoTab, Tock, DC TO-GOGO apps. All charge business either minimal % order (sometimes just credit card fees) or flat fees for pickup orders. They also offer delivery in many cases, letting business use their own staff for delivery or contracted out (at least two situations I’ve gotten text notifications that it’s been contracted out to DoorDash), but for less commission fees to the business if you had ordered directly from from the delivery service.
- If you have a spot to order from in mind already, and they’re not on any of those apps, CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE or social media (including DMs) first to see if they have an online ordering platform on their site or (gulp) call them to order directly or ask them their preferred platforms (they may only be willing to tell you off the record via DMs or privately). This isn’t necessarily limited to pickup either as many restaurants in DC are delivering with their own staff.
- Businesses of course prefer your business than no business so if those avenues are not available, you should order delivery via the more well-known apps as a last resort. As for now, Postmates, UberEats, and Grubhub/Seamless (same owners) have not agreed to reduce their commissions and all take 20-30%. It appears that Caviar/Doordash (same owner) have waived commissions on pickup (but you should get in the habit of never using those for pickup) and cut delivery commissions in half til the end of May for most restaurants. I don’t agree with Food & Wine piece here that you should delete these apps but this is worth the read
- Don’t use an American Express if you have other credit cards. Usually costs business an additional 1% than other credit cards (3% v. 2%), which adds up. HOWEVER, I’ve been told that AMEX has begun reducing processing fees to be competitive and does bigger volume discounts, but at least one big chef in DC told me that they are indeed higher for them.
- Tip more than you would previously. DO NOT TIP 0% ASSHOLE. Generally you really should be tipping at least 15-20% for both pickup and delivery orders.
- DO NOT YELP/GOOGLE REVIEW NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES/FOOD PRODUCTS NOW. It’s like kicking a person who’s just broken their leg. In general, don’t be rude (as a rule, you should minimize talking period when you’ve left your home).
- For pickup, look for restaurants/bars delivering food on the patio or outside windows or otherwise creating social distancing. I wouldn’t tell you not to use businesses that require you to pay onsite but if you do, maybe bring a pen or figure out another way to pay.
- For all spots, please buy gift cards/certificates/merchandise and tip on the virtual tip jar (this is the DC one). BUT, this is important, if possible DO NOT USE THE GIFT CARDS/CERTIFICATES immediately after places re-open. Businesses don’t want to have another period to extend their misery. Either 1) wait til later in the year to use the credits or 2) see if the business is able to redeem the entire amount for a small drink so they can keep the cash and you can keep. But be careful, still bring the certificate/card back to the business. In some jurisdictions, after some time, some businesses have to relinquish any non-redeemed gift cards to state as unclaimed property.