Stories / Guides and Tips, Impact

Why Independent Restaurants Should Be on Your Gift List

Maggie Borden

December 03, 2020


Make Room on Your Gift List

Note: this post was published in December 2020, but food and beverage businesses still need your support! We urge you to consider the tips and suggestions below to help keep restaurants #openforgood.

As we enter into the final weeks of what has been a year of unprecedented challenges, we ask you to think not only about how COVID-19 has affected your holiday plans, but what that means for your local businesses. November and December are typically big months for restaurants, but 2020 will have no corporate holiday parties, no team lunches, no brunch gift exchanges for family and friends. For an industry where nearly 1 in 6 restaurants have already closed, the increased restrictions and lack of government relief mean the next few months will be critical for food and beverage businesses.

Independent restaurants need your help more than ever. So consider spreading a little holiday cheer to the local businesses around you. Here are some easy (and delicious ways) to show your support:


Order holiday meals to-go from independent restaurants

Trade your holiday ham for some barbecue brisket or Bolognese. Many restaurants are offering specials to fill your festive table.

Buy merch and gift cards

We’ll say it again—gift cards are a great way to give restaurants money immediately, especially if you’re in an area where in-person dining is restricted. We've got a whole list of restaurants shipping apparel, spices, teas and more nationwide.

Be safe diners

Restaurants have made a lot of changes to make diners feel safe, so the least we can do is return the favor. We’ve partnered again with the Aspen Institute to create the Diners Code of Conduct, which lays out easy do’s and don’ts for dining during this unusual time. Some basic suggestions:

  • If you make a reservation, keep your reservation (or if you need to cancel, call ahead and let the restaurant know!). Remember that restaurants are operating with fewer tables, so every reservation matters.
  • Once you do come in to dine, respected the restaurant’s policies. That means wearing a mask whenever you’re asked to do so, maintaining social distancing, observing time limits, respecting the restaurant’s reservation policies, etc.
Exercise kindness

We know the holidays can be stressful in more normal times, and may be doubly so this year. Remember that many of the health and safety policies in restaurants may be state mandated, and are there to help keep both the restaurant staff and you safe.

Support the RESTAURANTS Act

Congress is in the midst of a lame-duck session, but conversations around a new stimulus package are still on-going. You can help push for making restaurant relief a part of that legislation. Call or email your Senator (contact info here) and ask them to support the RESTAURANTS Act (or thank them for already doing so!). Find talking points and more information here.


We need government and public support to keep restaurants #openforgood. So dig in and help feed yourself and your local community.

Learn more about the James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good campaign.

See our list of restaurants and chefs shipping food, beverages, and more across the U.S.


Maggie Borden is content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.