5 Ways to Bolster Your Restaurant

Rakuten Ready

Posted by: Rakuten Ready / April 28, 2020

With all the bad news in the world, everything from feel-good content to global reaching fundraisers are helping. The upside of this global pandemic is seeing the world come together. The restaurant industry is no exception. 

According to a new survey from the James Beard Foundation, four out of five restaurant owners remain uncertain they can reopen their doors once the pandemic passes. Restaurants accounted for 60% of job losses in March — so, NOW, more than ever, the industry needs to understand what options are available to them, not only to survive but to assist others.

Below are a few categorical ways in which restaurants can survive through this challenging time:

1. Pivot your Business Model

Restaurants are getting creative, in order to make ends meet. Some of the most impressive business shifts include restaurants that are surviving by helping those on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. 

One popular restaurant group in New York City, Tarallucci e Vino, started Feed the Frontline – a way for anyone to purchase meals for healthcare workers.  Thus far, they have raised over $1 million, providing over 34,518 meals. By making charity their focal point, more restaurants are increasing their currently dying demand, they’re succeeding in keeping more employees on board, and maintaining business operations.  

Sam Penix, of Everyman Espresso, has joined the effort to Fuel Frontlines, which allows consumers to purchase caffeine for hospital employees.  “Coffee is a thing that essential workers really need to get through these difficult, exhausting times. But there are barely any coffee shops open,” says Penix. To date, Fuel Frontlines has raised $20,000, providing over 3,000 cups of coffee to 12 hospitals. While providing food and beverages to the frontline heroes are the primary benefits, an added advantage is increased awareness of our restaurants being open and here to help.

There were already way too many food-insecure families BEFORE this pandemic broke out, and now there are exponentially more. Research the needs of local school districts and food banks – there may just be a revenue channel there that you may not have previously considered.


2. Technology to the Rescue

Technology vendors have stepped up to the challenge, assisting the negatively  impacted restaurants by providing invaluable platforms, tools or products that  give them a  lifeline  : 

What Rakuten is doing to help:

  • Rakuten Takeout, which just launched a pilot on April 13th, provides independent restaurants with a FREE platform to simply and quickly build a custom website that enables Online Ordering for Pickup. Takeout is integrated into sister company Rakuten Rewards- at – which drives instant demand via their 13MM+ active members, and incentivizes users with 20% cash back on every Takeout order, with every cent of the order going into the pockets of restaurants (no fees until Nov 2020).
  • Rakuten Ready’s ARRIVE (which enables restaurants to time orders to perfection around customer arrival time, making order handoff a more seamless, contactless experience) is also providing flexible payment schedules to address the varying needs of our restaurant, grocery, and retail partners.

Additionally, here are other options:

  • CardFree has committed to No-Cost Solutions (for three months, or longer) for independent restaurants.
  • ChowNow has made its mobile app 100% commission and fee-free, enabling 100% of the revenue generated by orders on the app to go directly to the restaurant. 
  • RizePoint has developed a COVID-19 Response Solution, available for free (now through March 2021), giving restaurants access to Mobile Auditor for COVID-19 response, with no limit to the number of audits or locations. 

3. Restaurants, A One-Stop-Shop

Many restaurants have begun selling items that their community is in dire need for, such as fresh groceries, hard to get pantry goods, and now high margin ticket items such as wine and cocktails to offset their diminishing sales.  Are there any unique needs that your community has, that you can fulfill? Going forward, consumers will want to limit the number of locations they need to shop.

After Panera Bread announced in March that it would be selling bread, milk and produce along with its menu items, California Pizza Kitchen and Subway have just recently hopped onto the grocery offerings bandwagon. “With food access currently top-of-mind for us all, we wanted to find new and creative at-home cooking solutions to ensure our guests and the communities in which we serve have as many high-quality fare options as possible,” said Ashley Ceraolo, Sr. VP of marketing for California Pizza Kitchen. 


4. Relief Funds

If you’re like most restaurants, you have not received any relief yet, either in the form of loans or programs aimed at helping the industry. Below is a list (Eater’s is especially comprehensive) of funds to which diners can donate and/or restaurants or their staff can find financial help:  


5. Get Your Gift Cards on to These Platforms

Consumers want to help! Make sure your gift cards are available on these popular platforms:

And if you, too, are a fan of SGN, here are some of our favorite industry ‘SGNs’ that we want to celebrate:

McD’s free meals for first responders  

Taco Bell headquarters → drive thru for truckers 

Until we meet again, stay safe! 

Let Rakuten Ready know how we can help!