Here are some ideas as to how to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic from ordering home delivery and takeaway meals to buying gift vouchers, purchasing restaurant cookbooks, and making donations to support chef-led initiatives to feed the hungry and less fortunate.
For food-lovers privileged to be able to afford the luxury of dining out frequently, and for those of us who are fortunate to be able to work around food and write about it, eating out at a restaurant is one of the great pleasures in life, whether it’s a fancy fine dining establishment or a more casual neighbourhood eatery.
It’s been heart-breaking to see so many of our favourite restaurants around the world, where we’ve shared so many memorable meals, shut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether that’s been due to government lockdowns, social distancing restrictions or people staying home and self-isolating, millions of restaurants across the globe have closed their doors because they can’t afford to continue to operate.
Many restaurants haven’t survived the coronavirus crisis and have already shuttered permanently because their overheads were too high and their landlords wouldn’t or couldn’t freeze rents. Others have made the decision to close temporarily and put staff on paid leave to save costs and keep their people safe.
Other restaurants have found ways to continue to stay open while it’s safe to do so, to provide livelihoods for their staff and their families, to continue to support their farmers, growers, producers, fishmongers, butchers, wine-makers, and beverage suppliers, and to feed their loyal customers.
While others, such as chef Deepanker Khosla, owner of Haoma urban farm-to-table restaurant in Bangkok, who tried offering takeaway and home delivery for a while, decided that he and his team would instead cook free meals to feed the Thai capital’s jobless and hungry. Other chefs in Thailand are doing the same and we’ll tell you more about them in another story.
Many restaurants won’t be able to continue to operate in cities and towns that go into full lockdown, so if your favourite restaurants are still operating some sort of food service, or they’ve turned their restaurant into a free kitchen as Haoma’s owner-chef has, and you can still afford to support them, here are some ideas as to how to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.
How to Help Save Your Favourite Restaurants During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The best thing you can do to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic is keep spending money with them. Here are some ideas as to how to help the eating establishments that have given you such joy over the years, so that they can continue to pay their rent, provide livelihoods for their staff, and hopefully continue to operate on the other side of this global health crisis.
Order Home Delivery or Takeaway Food from Your Favourite Restaurant
The best thing you can do to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic is to order takeaway meals or home delivery.
As a result of government social distancing measures to ‘flatten the curve’ and contain the spread of the coronavirus, many restaurants, eateries, bars, and cafés around the world have wisely chosen to cease in-house dining to protect staff and customers.
Instead, many are focusing on offering takeaway food instead that can be home-delivered or picked up at the door or at a ‘drive-through’ – which in the case of Melbourne’s MoVida tapas bar is the open-air street art gallery that is Hosier Lane. Reason enough to place an order if you have your own wheels.
Is Ordering Takeaway Food and Home Delivery Risky?
If ordering takeaway food from a restaurant or cafe worries you, rest assured that good restaurant kitchens tend to be spotlessly clean, hygiene practices are ingrained in professional chefs, and they have stringent processes for cleaning kitchens continually throughout the day, and doing a deep-clean at the end of the night. Food safety should not be a concern for you.
While there’s no evidence so far to suggest that the novel coronavirus can be spread through food or take-away packaging, to minimise the risk many restaurants are offering no-contact pick-up and delivery options. You should also take precautions to distance yourself from the staff you’re collecting the food from or the delivery person dropping your meal off. The virus is most easily spread from person-to-person and the delivery people have a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 due to their contact with multiple people at multiple sites during a shift. Tip them well.
Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap before and after the food pick-up or delivery, wear disposable surgical gloves and a face mask, try to avoid handling money and pay by card over the phone or when you order food online, disinfect any takeaway containers with a wipe-down of soapy water to be safe before transferring food to your own dinnerware, then immediately discard the takeout packaging, depositing it into an outdoor garbage bin.
How to Find Restaurants Offering Takeaway and Home Delivery
If your main objective is to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, then start by checking the restaurant’s website and social media accounts or just give them a call and ask if they’re offering takeaway or home delivery.
You could try any one of the myriad food delivery apps operating in cities and towns around the world, such as Uber Eats (global); Menulog, Deliveroo and Happy Cow in Australia; GrabFood and Food Panda in Southeast Asia; GrubHub, Seamless and Door Dash in the USA; Deliveroo, Just Eat and Takeaway in the UK and Europe.
Many restaurants are also operating their own home delivery service (and offering discounts if you use them) to maintain optimum food quality and maximise their income as delivery apps take a chunk of the profits. Some restaurants are using their front-of-house staff to deliver meals and in some cases the chefs are doing it themselves. Ask your restaurant what they prefer. The best option for them might be pick-up.
Check your local food media, food magazine websites and Facebook foodie pages.
In Australia, Delicious magazine’s website and Australian Gourmet Traveller’s site both have comprehensive lists of Australian restaurants, wine bars and cafés around the country offering takeaway by pick-up and delivery. In Melbourne, friend and fellow food writer, Sofia Levin has compiled similarly terrific lists of Melbourne restaurants, bars and cafés and Sydney restaurants, bars and cafes offering everything from takeaway food to home-meal kits and grocery boxes.
In Southeast Asia, the BK website has a list of the Thai capital’s restaurants offering home delivery. In Vietnam, Saigoneer website has a directory of Ho Chi Minh City restaurants offering takeaway and delivery. In Myanmar, where restaurants can only provide delivery service not takeaway, the Myanmore website has lists for Yangon and Mandalay. The Time Out websites have similar lists for Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
As we identify similar lists around the world we’ll add them here, so if you know of any please feel free to leave details in the Comments below.
This Is Not Takeaway Food As We Know It
This is probably the first time in food history that you’ve been able to order takeaway and delivery from fine dining restaurants and sample the cuisine of Michelin-starred, multi-hatted and World’s 50 Best fine-dining restaurants at home.
In Bangkok, Chef Ton of Le Du, which was recently named #8 on the 2020 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list is offering daily ‘limited edition’ specials of his Michelin quality cuisine based on whatever beautiful produce is fresh and available. He is also offering delivery from his other more casual restaurants, Baan and Mayrai.
Some of Bangkok’s best restaurants, Bo.lan, Err, Eat Me, Soul Food Mahanakorn, Appia, and Peppina have teamed up to offer takeaway and home delivery which can be ordered directly from the restaurants via their official Line accounts and delivered to Grab to avoid the 30% cut that the food delivery apps take.
Chef Ian Kittichai’s family of restaurants, under the banner ‘Issaya and Friends’, which includes Issaya Siamese Club, Namsah Bottling Trust, Baan PadThai, Casa Sapparod, and chef Sujira Pongmorn’s Saawaan restaurants to offer short menus and a one-stop-shop for ordering on the Issaya website. They’re including free delivery to some areas. They’re also offering special daily set menus that might include a whole charcoal roasted chicken with salad and pudding and you can watch the chefs cooking together on Instagram.
Chef Chalee Kader’s 100 Mahaseth’s full delivery menu is available, including the sublime bone marrow. We also recommend his wonderful Holy Moly pies, having sampled a whole box of the things courtesy of Chalee when we desperately needed a care package last year. The Supanniga restaurants have started their own delivery service called Sood Kua, while you can order direct from their Som Tum Der restaurant. For Lao soul food, Funky Lam is offering most of its menu for delivery.
Many of Singapore’s finest fine diners are also giving you the chance to try their cuisine from the comfort of your own home. You can order Michelin 3-starred Les Amis restaurant’s Le Poulet Roti, an oven-roasted free-range French chook with chicken jus and white asparagus for four people, one day in advance.
Chefs Are Getting Creative and You Can Get Home Delivered Drinks Too
Restaurants have not only taken their takeaway food to the next level, but they are getting creative with their offerings and how they package them, and are also adding beverage pairings.
Many Italian restaurants are offering packs of handmade pastas and jars of sauces that you can cook yourself, which can be paired with bottles of wine. In Melbourne, Thai restaurant Longrain is selling vacuum-sealed serves of its curries which you can freeze, store and reheat later. Mrs Singh’s is offering ‘isolation curry packs’ that include curry, dal, rice, and naan, and you can add a six-pack of Kingfisher beer.
In Sydney, the Continental Deli’s famous Mar-tinny cocktail in a can is available for pick-up or delivery, along with other gourmet canned goods, cold cuts and cheeses via the Bopple app, while the A1 Canteen in Chippendale is giving away free tote bags with orders of four bottled negronis, and also has a daily-changing takeaway menu for pick up only between 8am and 3pm.
It’s an Opportunity to Skip the Lines and Long Waits
The coronavirus period is also providing an opportunity to try the food of eateries, cafés and bakeries that typically can’t be booked, require a long wait, and/or involve lining up for an interminable time.
In Bangkok, Jay Fai, which is notoriously difficult to get a table at, and when you do there’s a lengthy wait, is offering take away only right now. You can place your order by phone and pick it up from the eatery. The full menu and ordering info are on their Instagram page @jayfaibangkok.
In Singapore, Burnt Ends, #5 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list is offering home delivery and takeaway,
In Melbourne, at Lune Croissanterie, where waiting in a long line is a daily part of life for Lune croissant fans, you can opt for offering home-delivery by calling their hotline to order and pre-pay.
Purchase Gift Vouchers
Another great way you can help save your favourite restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic is to purchase gift vouchers for meals in the future, either for your loved-one, family, friends, colleagues, or for yourself. Contact your favourite restaurants to see if they offer gift vouchers and if they don’t encourage them to do so.
Buy Restaurant Cookbooks
If the chef of your favourite restaurant has produced a cookbook, buy it. Buy five or ten if you can afford it. Purchase the cookbooks from the restaurant if they sell them on site or order them on Amazon, as the chef still earns royalties from sales. They make great gifts for birthdays and Christmases, although why wait? So many of us are using our stay-home and self-isolation time to cook, so why not give them as gifts now? We’re sharing our favourite restaurant cookbooks, starting with cookbooks by Australian chefs.
Buy Produce Boxes
Many restaurants are selling produce boxes as a way to use up fresh produce they can no longer sell or to support the farmers, growers and suppliers of their produce so they don’t go broke too! Some restaurants have transformed their entrances and waiting areas into small boutiques, others have turned the whole restaurant into a providore or deli. Farm to table restaurants that grow their own ingredients, such as Brae, a couple of hour’s southwest of Melbourne, are selling their own produce each week.
Start a Restaurant Cooking Club
After you gift those cookbooks to your fellow foodies who love your favourite restaurant as much as you do, why not start a restaurant cooking club? Start a Facebook group or Instagram account. Dedicate a night to cooking the restaurant’s recipes. Have your group order a selection of dishes one night, then the next night try to replicate them from the cookbook. Create a #tag and share the results on social media to recruit new members and encourage them to do the same.
Do you have any other ideas as to how to help save your favourite restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic? Feel free to leave ideas and tips in the comments below. Our readership is global so we’d love to hear about any restaurants anywhere at all in the world that are doing something special or getting creative when it comes to takeaway, home delivery or other offerings to see them through these challenging times.
Pictured: the outstanding Igni restaurant in Geelong, Australia.