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Some Things to Buy to Support Restaurants Right Now

Great merch and other things to put your money toward right now to help the industry, in this week’s ‘Add to Cart’

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Four restaurant merch sweatshirts on colorful background

This post originally appeared on March 17, 2020, in Add to Cart — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.


Things are… not normal. COVID-19 has overtaken every aspect of life, and the restaurant and food industry is in crisis, with restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs closing by the hour all around the country. And it seems like everyone — small-business owners, chefs, bartenders, baristas, servers, dishwashers, delivery folks, diners — is feeling the impact in some way.

There’s a lot of fear and anxiety, and it can be exacerbated if you happen to be stuck at home: on your couch, staring at a screen, wondering what to do or how to cope with the uncertainty. One good, though inadequate, answer is to put your money toward supporting restaurants while also engaging in a little self-care — specifically, some self-coziness. Consider this extra-long list of things to buy this week, consisting of 100 percent restaurant- merch sweatshirts. (And head to Helen Rosner’s Instagram, the inspo for today’s Add to Cart, for more great merch recommendations that support local restaurants.)

Things to buy, restaurant sweatshirts edition

Of course, buying a sweatshirt is of very limited help to a restaurant that’s trying to make payroll, rent, taxes, and more. For higher-impact things to do…

Other ways to put your money to work

  • There are many relief funds in action to support restaurants, bars, and food service workers impacted by the pandemic. One is the US Bartenders’ Guild’s Emergency Assistance Program, which receives 50 percent of profits when you buy this cheeky Negroni To-Goni T-shirt.
  • There are similar efforts in cities across the country, with shirts to buy in Chicago and Dallas and other funds taking direct donations.
  • Order delivery if you can. One fun opp: In NYC, 2019 Best New Restaurant Kopitiam is offering to-go nasi lemak kits, which each come with a jar of sambal, sambal ikan bilis, two cups of rice, pandan leaf and cucumber. Kopitiam employs both senior citizens and high school kids from the neighborhood, and supporting the restaurant means supporting their job security.
  • Call your representatives and ask them to implement a relief program to support the restaurant industry through this crisis. Here is a script.

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