With much of the economy shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, local businesses are looking for ways to stay afloat, and county business leaders are trying to lend a helping hand.
The Greene County Chamber of Commerce on Monday launched Take-out Weeks, and the Greene County Department of Tourism is operating Take-Out in Greene. Both offer websites that will link restaurants and breweries with potential customers.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has led to the closure of many businesses across the nation, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order deemed restaurants and other food suppliers as essential businesses, meaning they can still operate.
Restrictions are in place: Only take-out and delivery meals are allowed at this time to encourage social distancing.
Take-out Weeks will run through April 5, encouraging people in Greene County to support local restaurants, cafes and breweries by ordering take-out or delivery, or by purchasing gift cards.
“We decided that we wanted to give a forum to all of the restaurants that are remaining open and offering takeout and delivery throughout the county,” Greene County Chamber of Commerce President and Executive Director Jeff Friedman said Wednesday.
This week was originally scheduled to be Greene County Restaurant Week, but with social distancing requirements and other regulations in place in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Restaurant Week has been postponed, Friedman said.
But the chamber is trying to encourage county residents to help local businesses remain in operation during unprecedented economic hardships.
“This was important because all of our small businesses are struggling, especially restaurants, and we want to support them and keep as many people employed during these times,” Friedman said. “People need some cheer, too. Being home and not being able to go out to eat is a big part of some folks’ lives, and maybe we can bring a little of this home to them.”
By visiting greenecountychamber.com/takeoutweek.html, customers can find a listing of participating local restaurants, cafes and breweries, with links to their websites or Facebook pages.
The Take-Out in Greene program is through the county’s Tourism Department. The program offers a website with information about eateries that are open. The program’s organizers are in contact with restaurants weekly, county Tourism Director Heather Bagshaw said.
“We are continuing to call every restaurant once a week to make sure they are still serving and are still open those hours, and communicating with them that they are doing this safely — being mindful of keeping their distance,” Bagshaw said. “That’s very important. I want to make sure our restaurants are being mindful of this, and also to thank them. There are many people who rely on restaurants for their food, and many of these people are working overtime in critical jobs, and we want to make sure they have the nutrition and food they need to be able to continue doing their work.”
Many restaurants are practicing social distancing measures such as taking payment by credit card over the phone to avoid handling cash transactions, offering curbside service — bringing meals out to the customer’s vehicle or setting up a table in the doorway so customers do not have to enter the building — and taking social distancing precautions while making home deliveries, Bagshaw said.
The program will continue as long as restaurants are not allowed to provide dine-in service, Bagshaw said.
In addition to helping local businesses, the programs can also bring a sense of normalcy to customers, Friedman said.
“People are suffering a little cabin fever, and this way we can bring a little bit of normal life back,” he said.