How to Support Detroit’s Food Industry in Light of the Pandemic

Even while practicing social distancing, you can help
detroit food industry
Photograph courtesy of the Independent Restaurant Coalition 

You’ve seen the news, you’ve read the headlines. The country’s food industry, like many other industries, is in turmoil. Due to recent federal mandates to suspend all non-essential businesses in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, restaurants are limiting services to carryout and delivery-only. Some, even, have shuttered altogether. Indefinitely.

Our team of professional eaters is saddened to see Detroit’s food industry sustain such hardships. So many of our fondest moments are centered on food — many even at local restaurants. And yet food service workers, some of the most vulnerable workers in America, are out of employment.

As you adapt to becoming more self-sufficient in the kitchen, testing new recipes and mastering old ones, consider ways that you can help successfully usher our local bars and restaurants into better times. A long, hard recovery period is ahead for the Detroit food industry, but your help could make all the difference. Here’s how to get involved.

Keep tipping


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 Many food industry workers rely on tips to supplement their daily wages. Eateries such as Sister Pie have organized crowdfunding campaigns to support their employees in substantial ways. (The bakery is less than $2,000 away from reaching its $12,000 goal — a feat it’s accomplished in just two days with your support.) Reach out to your restaurants of choice to inquire about how to compensate staffers who are out of work amid the crisis.

Buy merch


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 For restaurants that have closed their kitchens altogether — and those that have not — consider supporting in unconventional ways. Purchase merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs, hats, or totes. Any revenue will help during these times. Visit your favorite restaurants’ websites or call to find out how to make a purchase. If swag isn’t on the menu, purchase a gift card for friends, family, or even yourself. Date nights and celebratory occasions are on the horizon.

Order in


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With this week’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, many restaurants are offering carryout and delivery services only. An increasing number of establishments have partnered with food delivery services such as Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless, and Uber Eats to deliver meals directly to clients’ doors. (Black and Mobile is another company servicing several black-owned food businesses in the Detroit area.) Others are tackling deliveries on their own. Help restaurants continue to operate within this new infrastructure by ordering your favorite dishes for your family. Some establishments are offering household items, too. Take Folk and Mink, for example. A newly established market launched by the restaurants’ owners is stocked with dry goods and paper products — even toilet paper! — available for purchase daily.

Be an advocate


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 If you’ve seen the Chef’s Call to Action that many restaurateurs have shared on social media, you too can get involved. Whether you’re a trained chef, home chef, or no chef at all, the CTA is intended to encourage government officials to do their part to support the millions of food industry workers across the country who have been impacted by the sudden restaurant closings. Share the post using #toosmalltofail in your caption, call your representative and senators, or draft a letter to officials demanding to include small and independent businesses in the stimulus plan. Restaurants like Lady of the House have shared a template for your convenience. Visit for more information on ways to get involved.