5 Ways to Support PA Food Businesses During COVID-19 Social Distancing

This is a really hard time … for everyone. No one is exempt from the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic; for some, that will mean their personal well-being, in regards to physical and mental health. For others, it will be their livelihoods, as so much of our economy is centered around, you know, people leaving their homes.

Restaurants, bars and food-related businesses have already taken a huge hit, with many places shuttering fully, and others hanging on by a thread as the situation unfolds. How all of our favorite local spots will make it through to the other side of this, it’s hard to say. But, for now, it seems best to focus on one day at a time, and try to find the ways to help support these folks however we can. Here are five ways that you can help support Pennsylvania food businesses at this time:

1. Buy Gift Cards & Merchandise

Nearly every food business, from tiny cheese shops to food trucks to dive bars to fine dining restaurants, offers gift cards. Even if it’s just $10 or $20, the purchase of a gift card to your favorite neighborhood pub, date-night spot or lunchtime sushi spot makes a huge difference. Not only does it put a bit more cash in the business’ bank account, but it gives a jolt of moral support, a reminder that people are still thinking about them and caring. Some larger restaurant groups, like CookNSolo in Philadelphia, are donating the proceeds of their gift card sales to support their hourly workers.

Many spots also have their own merchandise — hats, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, pint glasses and so on — available for purchase via website. It’s worth a quick peek at a restaurant’s or cafe’s or maker’s website to see if you can snag some swag and support them that way. Another development we’ve been seeing: Venmo accounts and crowdfunded campaigns to support hourly workers in restaurant establishments.

2. Curbside Pick-Up from Local Restaurants

Food people are creative — it’s just one of the reasons why we love the food community so much! Many restaurants are offering curbside pick-up, either of their full menu or (more likely) modified menus or special meals and meal kits. In Scranton, hip noodle joint Peculiar Slurp is making meal kits so fans can enjoy hot, comforting ramen at home. Cadence in Philadelphia is offering fixed-price dinners for two, with some really delicious-sounding dishes.

In Exton, Suburban Restaurant & Beer Garden is offering a modified version of its menu for takeout, with a focus on hearty sandwiches and sides.

And in Forty-Fort, The Canning House has food and kombucha (from Counterpart Kombucha) all ready for phone-in orders with curbside pick up.

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These are just a few examples of the thousands of Pennsylvania restaurants offering curbside pick-up options. Most breweries are offering takeout beer, too! Check the Instagram account of any spot you’re curious about, as that’s how most establishments have been communicating as the regulations around what food businesses can and can’t do unfold.

3. Delivery from Markets/Restaurants/Breweries/Distilleries

In addition to delivery through third-party services, like Caviar, UberEats and Grubhub, many food businesses are doing their own deliveries, some with a kind of irreverent, fun twist. In Philly, Hungry Pigeon is offering a daily “apocalypse menu,” for pick up and also for delivery that its team is handling itself.

Last weekend, Middle Child, a sandwich shop with a cult following, offered breakfast sandwich delivery around Center City Philly out of the back of a mini van. They called it “Breakfast on Wheels.”

In Pittsburgh, Bar Marco is dishing up a daily rotating “Mission: Impastable” menu for pick-up or $5 delivery in a 5-mile range (free for orders over $60). Face planting into a plate of their pillowy gnocchi sardi sounds pretty dang good right about now!

Carlino’s Market, a wonderful locally owned gourmet food shop, is offering same-day delivery from its Ardmore location (its West Chester shop is offering pick-up only). There are plenty of readymade, Italian-American inspired hoagies, soups, sides and salads, plus main dishes, like beef meatballs, stuffed shells and chicken parm, as well as staples like lunch meat, cheese and charcuterie, fresh loaves of bread, dried pasta and jarred marinara sauce. Desserts and fancy candy are the impulse buys that are a must right now! Shop and order online.

On the booze front, plenty of distilleries, wineries and breweries are offering local delivery. Ambler’s Forest and Main is delivering beer all over Montgomery County, offered same-day if orders come in before 2 p.m. In Philly, Love City Brewing is rolling out a brand new home delivery system, complete with online ordering. Wigle Whiskey in Pittsburgh, Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville and Holla Vodka in York are offering home delivery to help re-stock your home bar cart. It stands to reason that more and more producers of wine, beer, cider and spirits will begin to offer these types of services, so check the social media or websites of your community businesses to see.

4. Shop Online from Local Makers

Coffee, chocolate, pickles, honey, and all sorts of other non-perishables are available for online shopping from Pennsylvania artisans. Many of these companies have been doing online shipping since well before this crisis arose, and they have streamlined websites and processes already in place. Some artisans to consider ordering from include:

5. Farmers Markets are Open

This one is a little tricky, because it does require going into a place where there will potentially be lots of other people. However, if you must leave the house for grocery shopping, it is so much better to support our local farmers and producers right now than huge grocery store chains. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture has issued the following guidance and guidelines in regards to farmers markets:

Farmers markets and on-farm markets are encouraged to stay open to increase food supply options for Pennsylvanians. Those that do remain open should follow the COVID-19 guidance for farm and distribution preparedness, in addition to the following recommendations for farmers markets.

1. Prepare market and individual stands
2. Prepare workforce
3. Sanitize contact surfaces.

Our local economies need us now more than ever. Please consider, if you’re able, ways you can support local food businesses who are really struggling right now. If you know of other ways we can all be pitching in, please let us know in the comments here or on the PA Eats Facebook page!

  • Feature photo: Carlino's

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