How to support our local food and drink industry through COVID-19

What you can do throughout this crisis to help keep KC's restaurants and bars afloat.

Through the past week I have been alternating between panic over the thought of my 70+ year-old health-compromised parents even thinking about leaving their house, and then (with dicing, cold regularity) checking out low airfares. Yet I also haven’t been able to shake loose a deeply nagging concern (with evidence and more evidence from other cities) that some of our friends and family in the service industry are headed for a potentially monumentally difficult month or two. 

Perhaps you care to debate the finer points of risk, and whether you choose to go out is (at least as of this writing) still certainly your choice, but there are many of us out there who will not be able to freely visit restaurants without concern until the more immediate threats of COVID-19 have passed. It’s a massive bummer, but also a truth. I hope I am wrong, and things are maybe even fine—but at this moment, objectively, things do not seem to be fine.

From extra cleaning, social distancing (oh, how we will come to hate that phrase), and hand sanitizer stations, nearly all restaurants and bars that I’ve visited or asked about are putting additional sanitation measures in place (both in kitchens and dining rooms) to ease diners’ concerns, and we should take comfort in that. You can believe them, and it turns out that plain old soap totally works. Regardless of how this practically unbelievable situation plays out—whether the panic is a blip or if this is our weird new dystopian present—we owe it to this critical industry to do our best to keep them, and our friends working for them, afloat for sunnier days. Optimism, friends. This will pass, and we can do it. Here are a few ways you can help.

Delivery Image 

Gift Certificates. Gift Certificates. Gift Certificates. Gift Certificates. 

Buy birthday presents, get Christmas gifts early for once, and while you’re at it, buy yourself a bunch, too. Buy them at least as often as you go out to eat, and then one extra. Do you go out once, twice, three times a week? Buy at least that many next week. And the week after that. And the one after that—if you can. You will use them eventually, and it offers a financial bridge for restaurants, as well as for diners who may not feel comfortable eating out. Not all restaurants sell them online (frankly, most of our best local spots don’t from what I can see), but most do sell them over the phone or in person. This means you might have to make a call (something I too hate with an intensity better reserved for the orange person who fired our country’s pandemic response team), but it could mean the difference between a place being in business a month down the road or not. Just do it.

Tip like it’s your kid/husband/wife/friend depending on it.

Because it is. Tip more than you have ever tipped before.

Delivery is more available than ever.

Local delivery services from companies like Shatto Milk can bring great products right to your door, including milk, meat products from Paradise Locker, produce, and more. Lots of grocery stores also provide this option. And Postmates, DoorDash, and the like aren’t perfect by a long shot, but it does provide income to restaurants, and to local drivers. You can choose from dozens of restaurants, and you can specify for a driver to leave food items on your porch if you don’t want to (or can’t) make contact. You can find a full listing of restaurants offering delivery services at

Delivery to your car is being offered at local restaurants.

Several local restaurants are now offering service to your car, including Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, the Restaurant at 1900, 1900 Barker in Lawrence, and many more. Call in or place your order online, and a staffer will bring your order out to your car. You can find a full listing of restaurants offering curbside services at

Buy beer.

Lots of local breweries’ bottled products are available in their taprooms, or in your neighborhood grocery stores, liquor stores, and bottle shops like Bier Station. Buy local. Only.

Unbakery Has A Drive Thru

East Brooksides Unbakery has a drive-thru window. // Photo by April Fleming

Drive-thrus are open.

The Roasterie Cafes and Unbakery are among our local restaurants which have drive-thru windows. If you pay with a card and you don’t want to touch the reader thingy, you can request that staff sign your receipt for you. 

Merchandise is available. 

Many restaurants and breweries sell shirts, pint glasses, or other kinds of merch online. If they don’t have a shop, shoot them an email or send them a message via Facebook to ask how to purchase their items if you are unable to visit their shops in person. If a location is closed, you can arrange a later pickup date. 

Book your holiday parties now.

It’s a good opportunity to get the perfect date for your corporate holiday party, and put down a deposit.

Practice good hygiene when you are out. 

When you go out to eat, or even just to pick items up, wash your hands when you go in and before you eat. You can help keep restaurants clean by doing your part. As well, practice social distancing.

Ask your service industry friends (make that all of your friends) how you can help. 

Be a good friend. If you know someone has been laid off and you suspect they could use a hand paying a bill or buying some groceries—or maybe they just need someone to listen—be there for them. You can (and should) also offer help to neighbors, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, including offering to pick up medications, groceries, and whatever else they might need. Trite but true: we’re all in this together.

Buy Local Beer

Pick up local beer in breweries’ taprooms or in your neighborhood liquor store. Photo by April Fleming

Categories: Food & Drink