As the East Coast braces for Maria, it begs the question, how as a restauranteur can you protect your business and maybe even help your neighbors? The process of preparing for a disaster, closing doors, and letting the public know when you’ve reopened can cost thousands of dollars, not to mention valuable time. It can be hard on employees who may lose their homes and temporarily an income. That being said, nature almost always wins so the best we can do is prepare.
Serving the Community
We saw a number of examples of this in Houston after Harvey. We saw restaurants opening their doors to provide free meals to first responders. There were restaurants delivering food to shelters, police departments, fire departments and others in need. Beyond feeding the hungry, there were restaurants that opened as drop sites for donations. One Chef, Richard Knight was reported by Houston Eater to be using his own canoe to assist in water rescues.
Adding Operating Hours
You’ve probably lost quite a bit of money in the time you’ve been out of business. Odds are, those around you are pretty tired of staying indoors eating campbell’s soup. By extending hours, you’re able to feed more and make up for lost profits. If holidays are approaching, you may want to stay open to feed those with nowhere else to go. According to a recent news article Kenny & Ziggy’s Restaurant decided to stay open through the Jewish holidays, because their business ended up unscathed from Hurricane Harvey. According to the owner Ziggy Gruber, “There were no restaurants open anywhere. We were lucky in that respect. I got my staff together, which was not easy. People were relieved. People lost their kitchens. There was no food anywhere, and supermarkets were closed. So for them to come in and have nourishing matzo ball soup, or Hungarian goulash, was very comforting to them.”
Give Them What They Need
When disasters strike, people lose even their bare necessities. Believe it or not, as a restaurant, you can be a big help. For those without power, the internet is something many can’t live without. If you are lucky enough to have power, offering WiFi services to those that need them (no purchase necessary), can be a tremendous help. Air conditioning or heat can also provide a nice respite for neighbors when they might not have them.
Hospitality is about serving people and disasters are a time when everyone needs a little help. While helping your neighbors may not immediately help your bottom line, the positive associations with your brand can never hurt.