Coronavirus: Want to Help Local Restaurants? Try Buying 'Dining Bonds' or Gift Cards


Remember the good, old days of social closeness-ning? - RAILGARTEN/FACEBOOK
  • Railgarten/Facebook
  • Remember the good, old days of social closeness-ning?

If you are looking for ways to help support Memphis restaurants and bars and all of the folks here who make your going-out dreams come true, consider buying a gift card.

This notion is taking hold in other parts of the country as the restaurant industry braces for the full impact of social distancing that will leave tables and barstools empty for who knows how long.

As we reported yesterday, Railgarten will be selling deeply discounted gift cards at the bar and online beginning today at 2 p.m. For example, $100 will get you a $200 Railgarten gift card right at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m., you can get a $200 card for $125. Card prices increase every hour. Every in-person purchase will get you a free roll of toilet paper.
  • Dining Bonds Initiative
The biggest coordinated push across the country so far is the Dining Bond Initiative over at There, restaurants ranging from Long Island’s upscale Preston House & Hotel to the fun, kitschy Bigfoot Lodge in Los Angeles (and even the Sysco Corp.) have signed up to sell Dining Bonds.

”A Dining Bond works like a savings bond, where you can purchase a ‘bond’ at a value rate to be redeemed for face value (for example, a $100 bond for $75) at a future date,” according to the Dining Bond website. “For restaurants, many of whom are small businesses and are in serious risk of shutting their doors permanently due to this crisis, the bonds can bring in much needed revenue.

”And for us, the public, they're a chance to show love and support, ensuring the future of some of their favorite restaurants, not to mention the many people who may be forced out of work.”

Visit the organization’s website to find out more about Dining Bonds and how to get started with the program.


Eater, the online newsmagazine, published a list of several different such pushes happening across the country. It mentions the Dining Bond Initiative but also the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, the Southern Smoke Foundation (to aid those affected by the cancellation of SXSW), Giving Kitchen in Georgia, and more.

Over in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C., organizers there are asking locals to buy “Restaurant Bonds —similar to ’war bonds’ during WWI and II.” The organizers explained the gift cards can "act as a micro-loan to restaurants to provide much-needed immediate cash.” Also, these can be purchased online so customers can show support without having to leave home.
  • Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District

“There has never been a more important time to support our neighborhood’s culinary scene,” reads a news release from the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District. “Restaurants are emptying out and small business owners are seeing up to an 80 percent drop-off in customers.

“Restaurants already work off razor-thin profit margins, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a test like no other. We have heard that restaurants in Adams Morgan and across D.C. are scrambling to cover expenses and to make payroll with no idea what new changes tomorrow will bring.

For now, the best thing our friends and neighbors in the community can do to help is to order takeout or buy gift cards to ensure at least some income during this difficult time.

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