Supporting Local Restaurants
Rally for NH Restaurants initiative aims to provide extra support during winter months
Throughout the past year, many restaurants have struggled to stay afloat given the economic and personal impacts of the pandemic. Support from customers and restaurant-goers is especially crucial to their success during the winter months.
The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association (NHLRA) recently launched the “Rally for NH Restaurants” campaign for the months of February and March, as this tends to be one of the hardest periods for the state’s restaurant industry.
“Taps are running dry. Restaurants are closing. And thousands of staff are being let go. This winter, let’s rally for NH restaurants as they face continued devastation and significant job losses,” their website states. “Together, we can give restaurants a fighting chance to make it through this winter.”
“We’re just trying to rally communities around their favorite restaurants to support them, help them get through this really tough stretch,” says NHLRA president and CEO Mike Somers. “Really this is just about educating folks on all the things that restaurants are doing to keep their guests safe when they dine in, and then other ways that they can help support those restaurants.”
Support not only for these predominantly small businesses, but also for the employees who work there, is vital to the state’s success. According to the NHLRA, over 200 restaurants have permanently closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Dozens more have temporarily closed for the winter, and many are unsure what the future will look like.
All New Hampshire restaurants, bars, breweries and lodging foodservice properties are able to benefit from and participate in the campaign. “There’s no restrictions. If you’re a restaurant operating in New Hampshire, we will include you in the effort,” Somers says.
The Rally for NH Restaurants campaign website lists many ways to support restaurants during this time. Dine in (safely), purchase gift cards, utilize takeout options and offerings, add beer or wine to your order, leave a positive review online or engage with restaurants on social media, purchase merchandise, and tip generously if you are able to. “If you have a little extra, considering leaving a little extra,” they write. Another option to support the restaurant industry is to donate to the New Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund, which directly benefits hospitality employees in need.
Of course, dining out is a far different experience than it was even just a year ago. However, customers can feel confident that restaurants statewide are utilizing a full range of COVID-19 safety precautions and procedures. Learn more about all the ways restaurants are keeping patrons safe during the pandemic here.
Outdoor dining in the winter? That’s a concept pretty much no one had heard of before the start of the pandemic. Restaurants are responding to the need for safe and fun dining in creative and innovative ways. Some restaurants are offering private outdoor dining igloos (see sidebar) and others are offering outdoor fire pits and heaters — warm up while you enjoy a beer from your favorite New Hampshire brewery.
Other fun ideas include booking a “staycation,” turning your car into a restaurant with “backseat dining” or taking advantage of private dining room offerings. Learn more about fun ways to support New Hampshire restaurants here.
The overarching goal of the campaign is to help restaurants get through the winter, with the anticipation that outdoor dining can begin in the spring, and by the time New Hampshire gets cold again, many people will be vaccinated.
“We’re almost there. We can kind of see the finish line from here, but we’re just trying to get over that last little hump to get to warm weather and outdoor dining, and then hopefully everything starts to work itself out — vaccines and everything else,” Somers says. “We certainly appreciate, send our thanks to all the folks in the community that have supported them so far in this effort, and certainly hope that they will stand by us just a little bit longer, and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done so far.”
Restaurants can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and follow the campaign on social media. Rally for NH Restaurants is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, regularly reposting and engaging with local restaurants.