A cocoanut lime margarita is a signature cocktail at Salud Brewery in Roseburg.

As we all know, restaurants have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 and the difficult but necessary steps that have been taken to contain its spread, including shutting down most local businesses.

While most restaurants in our area have taken creative and unique steps to serve their customers and keep some revenue flowing, all are struggling to pay the bills and their employees. That’s difficult to watch since for many of us these restaurants are a big part of our lives, not just the fact that they feed us with food but also with much-needed social interaction.

Restaurants are also an integral part of our community in other ways, like hosting fundraisers, donating to food banks and creating special gathering places.

They’ve given to us over the years and now it’s time to give back, especially now that many of us are $1,200 richer thanks to Uncle Sam. Here are just a few ways to help our area restaurants

  • The most obvious — order takeout, whether for pickup or delivery, which most restaurants are offering now.
  • Buy gift cards from some of your favorite eateries. This is a great way to support them now and dine at them down the road. And stock up; gift cards to restaurants make great presents for birthdays, holidays and just thinking about you moments.
  • Buy merchandise. Remember all those times you thought about buying a t-shirt, tote bag or mug from your favorite restaurant? Now is the time to do it. Heck, double up and give a friend a sweatshirt or coffee mug from a local restaurant and tuck a gift cars inside.
  • Don’t forget about edible merchandise too. Buying beans from your favorite coffee shop, fresh jam or jelly from the nearby bakery or infused olive oil from that Greek restaurant you love all are great ways to support the restaurant and please your taste buds.
  • Order whole meal kits. Many restaurants are putting together entire family meals, and often at very reasonable prices. Buying a pizza to go? Get a salad, bread sticks and cookies with it.
  • Tip, tip, tip. Now is the time to tip as generous as possible, even 40% or 50% if you can. You think it’ll sting more than it actually will, and you’ll truly be helping out and generating tremendous good will for the next time you stop by.
  • Simply donate. Some area restaurants have started fundraising campaigns to stay afloat, including GoFundMe campaigns. Give what you can (again, remember that stimulus check you just got?)
  • Write glowing revues. This is a great way to help a restaurant without burning a hole in your wallet. If nothing else a good review on Yelp or Google helps the restaurant promote itself and gives its owners a Feel Good moment, and who can’t use that now?
  • Like the restaurant online and share it. Again, it helps with promotion and lets the restaurant know you’re there for them.
  • Ask how you can help. These are difficult and unchartered times for all of us, including restaurant owners. Many are dealing with myriad issues, including paying rent, meeting payroll, staff layoffs and just trying to stay afloat. It never hurts to ask how they’re doing and what you can do to help.

It could be a while, but someday hopefully in the not too distant future we will have contained the spread of COVID-19 and businesses, including restaurants, will get the green light to open up again.

When that time comes we will all want to go back to those burger joints and breweries that gave us such joy over the years. The time to do what we can to help ensure those places are able to reopen is now.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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