Well Ontario, here we go again. This 2+ year roller coaster we’ve been on doesn’t seem to be letting up but never fear – we can always eat our feelings. The restaurant industry and small businesses have been through the wringer and need our assistance now more than ever. What you may not realize is how easily you can do this! Check out these simple ways to support local now, tomorrow and well… any day!
Supporting Local Business With Your Wallet
Of course, the easiest way to support our local restaurants and businesses is through purchases. If you have cash and the capacity to throw it around, here is how to support small business and lend a hand to our struggling neighbours.
Eat Out On a Regular Basis
There will always be a day where you want to treat yourself, celebrate a milestone or you just don’t feel like cooking. Use these opportunities to get out and enjoy a meal! It’s also a great way to reconnect with friends and family when your schedule is super busy. We all need to eat, right? So why not eat and socialize at the same time – it’s a win-win!
While dining out is often preferred there might be times (like right now) when that’s not an option. Thankfully there’s always take out so you can continue helping local businesses in the comfort of your PJs on your couch at home.
Add Alcohol To Those Orders
If you enjoy an adult beverage or two with your meal, consider ordering it from your local restaurant. Alcohol has one of the highest profit margins for restaurants. Therefore, it’s an easy way to increase their profit margin and help restaurants stay afloat. Also, local restaurants may have agreements with smaller craft brewers or wineries which means you can enjoy unique options you wouldn’t be able to otherwise unless you visited those establishments in person. So next time you’re thinking about enjoying a drink, order from your local restaurant instead of heading to the LCBO or the Beer Store.
Avoid Delivery Apps As Much As You Can
If you haven’t heard by now, delivery apps such as SkipTheDishes, UberEats and DoorDash take a big chunk out of a restaurant’s profit margins. Each of these apps charges upwards of 20% per order, sometimes even as high as 30%! While there has been legislation in place to help curb these ridiculous fees, it’s not a guarantee with the ever-changing landscape.
More and more restaurants are adapting to have their own delivery services or there may be a local business near you that runs their own service. If either of these is available, ditch the app and opt for them instead to help restaurants keep their profit margins as high as possible.
Pick Up Your Order Whenever Possible
That being said, if you’re able to avoid delivery entirely then that’s your best option! Then you’re able to avoid the delivery debacle entirely and the cash stays with the restaurant. It might mean a little more hassle for you but the restaurant you’re ordering from will certainly appreciate your time and effort!
Skip the Condiments & Cutlery
Since we’re on the take out train, make a note when ordering to ditch the condiments and cutlery. There’s no need to add to that pile in your drawer (we know you have one) as these just add additional costs to the restaurant for them to go right into the garbage or to collect dust. Obviously if you need them then by all means, but it would be better for restaurants (and the environment!) if you had your own reusable cutlery set for when you’re on the go or to say no thanks if you’re planning to eat at home.
Support Small Businesses By Purchasing Gift Cards
Whether it’s for yourself on a later date, a surprise for a friend or a way to complete some of your holiday shopping, gift cards are always a fantastic way to support local businesses. With the current state of affairs, this is a good way for folks to support local businesses right now and then enjoy those eats and treats once indoor dining reopens.
Ways to Support Local Businesses For Free
Believe it or not, there are ways you can support when your budget is tight and you don’t have the cash to spend. Here are some ways to support small businesses for free where the cost is only your time!
Write a Review
Kind words go a long way! Reviews not only help restaurants and businesses be seen on sites like Google and Facebook but it could also convince new customers who are thinking of dining in or ordering take out to do just that. It only takes a few minutes to share your experience and it could lead to more sales for them!
Not sure what to include in your review? Here are some ideas that we find are always helpful to include:
- List the menu items you ordered
- If you took any photos, add them to your review
- Talk about the atmosphere and the ambiance of the restaurant
- If you had a lovely server, include their name as a little shoutout
- Mention if you made a reservation or not
Engage With Their Social Media
In a world of finicky algorithms, interacting with a Facebook post, retweeting a Tweet, commenting on an Instagram photo, etc can go a long way. If you see your favourite restaurant appear on your feed, take 30 seconds to give it a love, wow, care, etc engagement (these are better than just a ‘like’), leave a quick comment or even better, share it to your own Facebook feed. Comments and likes are good but shares are even better since this signifies to the algorithm that it should be shown to more people. More people seeing it means more potential customers!
Share in Groups on Facebook
Continuing on the social media tangent, Facebook Groups are becoming more and more popular for folks to look for recommendations and suggestions for pretty much anything – restaurants included! If you’re unsure where to go for your next meal or just want to see what’s out there, hop into one of these groups (like the ELO Facebook Group!) and do some perusing. Even better, if you’ve recently been to a spot and had a great experience, share it with the group! This not only helps small business owners get more online attention but can entice more potential customers for future orders.
Tell a Friend
There’s nothing better than word of mouth for getting butts in seats and food orders to restaurants! Talk to your friends about your experiences and they will have a higher chance of going and supporting that business too. We’ve all been there when we want to order take out but have no idea what we’re craving or what we even feel like eating so tap into your friends’ beautiful brains for local business recommendations.
How Are You Supporting Local Businesses?
Are any of these creative ways to support local businesses new to you? Did you find this helpful? It really is quite easy to support local in our everyday lives and these habits we form now due to the current landscape will only do good things for our communities.
Is there anything we’ve missed that we should add? We’re always looking for ways we can help support our Ontario restaurants, breweries, wineries, etc so if you have an idea, please send it our way. We’re all in this together and it only takes a little bit of effort to help ensure we can all get through this roller coaster together!
Let’s hear about some of your favourite local restaurants either in a comment below or share a photo of your latest take out order with the gang in our Eat Local Ontario Facebook Group!
Wondering where you should eat on your next adventure?
Check out our City Guides and our Ontario Round Ups for ideas!