Many of you have written me to ask how you can help our local farmers, chefs and restaurants. The COVID 19 crisis has been hard on all of us, for sure. But, in our state and across the country, the hospitality industry – that’s restaurants, food trucks, hotels, Bed & Breakfast’s and the local farms and farmers they support, have all taken a hard hit. Particularly those that are independently owned. They need your help.
On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, I did a segment with Colleen Odegaard on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show on how and where to shop locally.
If you need to get out to buy groceries, and you want to support locally owned businesses in the process; shop at any one of these farm stores, local markets, farmers markets or restaurants . These locally owned businesses are a wonderful source for the purchase of proteins and produce and some household goods as well.
Then, keep checking back. Each week, I update. Until this is all over, I’m committed to writing new posts with new places and new offerings of which you will want to be aware.
How you can help Charlotte restaurants?
Since early in March, I’ve been writing on how you can eat local at Charlotte area restaurants as they take on the whole new world of to-go and delivery options. Here is a comprehensive list of Charlotte area restaurants open for business right now. They are listed at the Charlotte’s Got A Lot website, as a part of the “Pitch In. Eat Out.” Campaign. For more specific info in terms of what many restaurants are offering, give several of my March 2020 posts. a read.
In addition to the Where to Shop Local segment with Charlotte Today, Colleen and I also taped a segment on how you can help area restaurants. That piece is scheduled to be aired on Charlotte Today later this week. Watch my social media and I’ll let you know when that will air and will embed it here when it does.
What I told Colleen and show viewers is that there are five basic things you can do today or tonight. Actions you can take right now.
As we are all Sheltering In Place, we know that the very smartest way to stay safe, to flatten the curve is for all of us to stay at home. But, we all have to eat. If we are cooking at home we need groceries.
Plan Dinner To-Go and Take Home
But, what if you don’t want to cook? Charlotte’s local restaurants and chefs continue to make eating well and serving our families healthy food easy. Now, we need to pivot the way we think about going out to a restaurant; and start picking up to-go meals from local restaurants. If you don’t want to go out, order delivery. More and more restaurants and chefs are offering that option.
Add on a Tip to Your Order
I know many people don’t often tip on take out. But this is different. Restaurants that are open now are operating with a skeleton staff to help all of us. Adding on a gratuity to your take out order is a great opportunity to thank and further help these chefs and their teams.
If your favorite place is closed right now, that most likely means that employees – chefs, bartenders, wait staff and kitchen help have been furloughed and are without employment or pay right now. If you go online or follow the social media feeds, you will see links to purchase gift certificates.
This is a great way to support these establishments and help them keep utilities and rent or mortgage paid until they can open the doors and rehire staff once again.
But wait, there is more, and funding depends on us
You’ve read about the NCRLA (North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association) on these pages before. Mostly in relationship to the work I do with the annual NCRLA Chef Showdown. The NCRLA is North Carolina’s arm of the National Restaurant Association. As such, they are constantly working to make thing better for hotels and restaurants in North Carolina.
The NCRLA does important work all year round, but in times of crisis, this help has even more of an impact.
As they meet to make the legislature aware of needs on a large scale, the NCRLA is also working to help support individual restaurant employees across the state.
Just two weeks ago, they set up the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund. This fund offering any individual that works in a North Carolina restaurant, and has been displaced due to all the closures, the opportunity to apply for a one time grant of $500.
They have had thousands of applications come in from chefs and restaurant workers across the state asking for help. Now, they need your help with funding to help them help the industry. Think about it as another way to leave a gratuity. Donations of any amount will help support the cause, Here is the link for donations. I cannot begin to tell you how much your financial help will be appreciated.
Do you own or work for a business or corporation that would be interested in corporate sponsorship of this fund? Contact Margo Metzger at MMetzger@NCRLA.org.
Life Seems Easier When There is a T-Shirt
Cheers and a HUGE shout out to my friends at Ya’ll Sauces in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You’ve read about these fabulous GotToBeNC sauces here and here. You’ve seen me showcase them on my Eat Local and Drink Local segments on WCNC in Charlotte and WRAL in Raleigh.
In addition to making their trio of deliciously popular sauces (with a fourth one in the works), they’ve also taken to designing a T-Shirt.
The cost of the shirt is $23 and for the next 14 days, its available in your size! The best part is, 100% of proceeds go to NCRLA’s NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund! Place your T-shirt orders here, and then get all of your friends to do the same! #TellThemHeidiSentYou
How can you help your favorite hotels and B&B’s
The hospitality industry isn’t limited to restaurants and food trucks. Hotels and B&B’s make up a great portion of the industry as well. One of the wonderful things about vacationing and stay-cationing in the Carolinas, is that we enjoy a little bit of everything from the mountains to the coast. Spotted all across the state are wonderful Bed & Breakfasts, hotels and resorts. All of them happy to welcome you with a place to call home as you travel.
The best and most direct way you can help North Carolina hotels and B&B’s, too? Same as for restaurants you love, simply continue to do business with them.
They’ve lost convention and wedding business and have had to furlough employees as well. Smaller mom and pop operations have shuttered in many cases, hoping to be able to afford to wait this out till we are on the other side.
Over the past several years, I’ve added food centric travel to the list of what I bring to the table. I’ve loved sharing tips and hidden gems you will want to explore as you travel across our state and our region. I can’t wait to start traveling and sharing once again. But, right now, we can’t travel to all of our favorite overnight or three-day weekend spots.
We can’t go there now, but we can buy a gift certificates to use later on in the year or to give as gifts.
In an effort to help generate some income, many places are even offering deals on gift certificates right now. Making it an even better time, on several levels, to buy into your next vacation or getaway.
This down time seems a good time to start making late summer/early fall plans. Take some time to come up with a wish list. Need some inspiration? Take a look at any of these posts . Read stories of my three-day weekend and food-centric travel over the course of the past year or so. Look at websites and decide where your next three-day weekend will take you. Then, start buying gift certificates to get the ball rolling. #TellThemHeidiSentYou