Restaurant Industry Urging Public Support in Time of Crisis

The state restaurant industry is once again borrowing a page directly from folks in Michigan’s Great Southwest who have been leading the charge to help local businesses survive state mandated restrictions since they first started.

Borrowing the concepts utilized by the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, several local restaurant coalitions, and the public themselves, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) has today issued a call to action for all Michigan residents to support the hospitality industry by purchasing gift cards, placing carryout orders and taking staycations.

They remind everyone that gift card purchases from local restaurants provides immediate revenue to keep businesses operating. Carryout helps cover food and labor costs. Staycations increase hotel occupancy with a convenient in-state getaway.

Those are all points that Arthur Havlicek and his team at the Chamber have been advocating since the early days of the pandemic and reiterated with an even stronger rebound through the Buy Local Berrien Challenge which has swept our region for weeks now. Even individual efforts like the Stevensville Staycation Gift Card Pack, the Infusco Coffee Roasters Keep Local Breakfast Rising gift card deal, and next Monday’s Coloma Curbside Christmas offering, have gained traction with fans of multiple restaurants, diners, and other businesses across the region.

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Meanwhile, at the state level, Justin Winslow, President & CEO of the MRLA, said this morning,  “While we continue to strongly advocate for elected leaders in Washington D.C. and Lansing to pass a meaningful stimulus package, we know our neighbors across the state also can help the industry by patronizing their local restaurants and hotels during the holiday season and in the coming months.”

Winslow adds, in addition to carryout, cocktails-to-go and gift card purchases, customers can support restaurants by bringing the dining experience home during the holidays. Order a full meal, holiday hors d’oeuvres or dessert prepared by your favorite restaurant. Options available at area restaurants and hotels include prepared family-style holiday catering menus for groups of two, four and more as well as pre-packaged ingredients with instructions for cooking a holiday meal at home. For families that live near one another, consider ordering a large feast and splitting it up among different households to share the same dining experience from the comfort of home.

Billy Downs, owner/operator of Ford’s Garage in Dearborn says, “During this season of giving, please consider supporting restaurants and other hospitality business and employees,” and adds, “The industry has been crushed during this pandemic and the purchase of carry-out meals and gift cards NOW will help save Michigan businesses and industry jobs in the coming months. Also, if you personally know a hospitality worker, please consider blessing them in some kind of way this holiday season!”

Patrons can support hotels by planning future vacations. Reserving a staycation is a wonderful way to support hotels and enjoy the luxury of a getaway close to home. Enhance the stay with in-room holiday dining. In place of cooking at home, book a hotel dining suite for a luxe private meal cooked by professionals with contactless service. Close family, newlyweds and new parents would appreciate the gift of an overnight stay. Even ring in 2021 in style with a New Year’s Eve restaurant and hotel package.

Peter Beukema, CEO of Suburban Inns and an MRLA board member, says, “There are unique hotel packages, promotions and experiences available around the state for those seeking a fun and safe getaway from their home,” adding, “To support Michigan hotels, guests utilizing the advance purchase rate discounts for the holidays and future summer vacations provides vital revenue for hotels in our state.”

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2,000 restaurants have permanently closed in Michigan. As of mid-September, two-thirds of hotels were operating with less than 50-percent capacity, and currently, 63-percent of hotels have less than half of their typical staff working full-time.

Consumers can visit and find restaurants in their area—throughout the state of Michigan—by entering an address or selecting a specific cuisine. A list of restaurants based on the user’s location proximity is generated. Each restaurant listing indicates the type of cuisine offered; price range; delivery, pick-up, or curbside options; as well as menu, directions and hours of operation.