“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.” – Alice Waters
As a company and as a community, we have always found joy in communion and welcoming others to our table. Our friend John T. Edge recently wrote, “In previous times of crisis, Southerners gathered in restaurants to hatch recoveries or mourn losses. This crisis is different.” We now have those places of comfort and relief taken from us – in some cases, forever.
By doing the right thing and flattening the curve, we’re simultaneously abandoning the service industries we love so dearly.
We know that the culinary landscape will not look the same when we are again allowed to gather. The best healing is always done around the table.
None of this is great news for our beloved gathering spots, but there are ways that we can help:
Donate to non-profit organizations working with independent restaurants. The James Beard Foundation oversees an industry relief fund.
Save Local Restaurants proposes change through legislative action, but there may be an organization in your own state or community that provides direct help.
If you are able, order take out or delivery from your favorite restaurant. Some are even offering ready-to-make family meals. Many of us can’t afford to do this every day, but make a list of your regular local spots and buy when you can.
Some restaurants are offering groceries and produce from local farmers and vendors; seek out opportunities to shop those goods (and in some cases, beverages).
If you are looking for ways to get money into a merchant’s hands now, you can buy gift cards to use later. Many places offer merchandise or the opportunity to shop their goods online. It may not be exactly the same, but your quarantine may be improved with a locally made salsa, jam, pasta, or bread.
Don’t forget to post about and tag your favorite places on social media, so others will know they are still open and running. Most of our favorite chefs and restaurant owners are doing online classes, posting their quarantine meal plans and recipes in step-by-step Instagram stories, and helping step up our at-home culinary game. We’ve recently loved following Vivian Howard’s kitchen escapades and Brooks Reitz’s vegetable fritter game.
The Southern Foodways Alliance is hosting a Facebook live event series called Working Lunch every day at 1:00pm CST through April 3rd. John T. Edge will be speaking with restaurant industry professionals about the crisis and what we can all do.
Cherry Bombe is hosting Jubilee 2.0 on Instagram this Sunday, April 5th, bringing together talented and inspiring women in the food and beverage world.
Some chefs and restaurants that are able to are supporting their local healthcare workers, like Ashley Christensen and team who are making meals for those working the front lines in North Carolina.