We all want to help our favorite restaurants survive the pandemic shutdowns, restrictions and, well, every other obstacle that’s been thrown at them over the past year—yes, they still need our support—but the good news is that there are fun and delicious ways to do so right now. Here, four ways to bolster the industry as easy as dining al fresco or sporting cool gear.

Dine Out to Help Out

What it is: The Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) designated today, March 16, as Dine Out to Help Out Day to ring in the one-year anniversary of the date Colorado restaurants were told to close for indoor dining—and encourage patrons to support independently owned eateries. To make it easier to dine out or take out, the organization offers a searchable restaurant database (with pertinent details like who offers batched cocktails to go). The website also offers information on how to reach out to your local, state, and federal officials to ask for additional economic aid for the hospitality industry.

How to help: Grab a table, order food for pickup or delivery, or purchase a gift card from one of the restaurants in the database.

First-Ever Spring Denver Restaurant Week

What it is: The original Denver Restaurant Week was designed to give local eateries a bump in sales during the historically slower winter months, but since all of the months have been slower with limited seating and understandably reluctant diners, Visit Denver created a spring 2021 version of the tasty tradition. Restaurants will offer special multi-course menus at one of three price levels—$25, $35, or $45. Fingers crossed mother nature cooperates so we can enjoy those deals al fresco, on patios.

How to help: Pencil in a reservation to dine out or order takeout from April 23–May 2. Check out the list of participating restaurants and menus when they’re released on March 31.

Gift Cards for Black-Owned Restaurants

What it is: Planterra Foods, the CRA, and the Colorado Restaurant Foundation have provided $20,000 in grants to 20 local Black-owned independent restaurants to drive momentum for dining out via a gift card campaign. Each restaurant has 40 $25 gift cards to give diners as a thank you. The move encourages repeat visits by giving guests a little something extra, while upping each restaurant’s orders.

How to help: It’s easy—dine at a Black-owned restaurant (the full list of recipients should be available in mid to late March), be one of the first to spend $25 or more, and you could get a $25 “thank you” gift card to use at that restaurant when you go back.

“To Denver, With Love”

What it is: Small business technology supplier SpotOn launched the “To Denver, With Love” campaign to raise money for the hard-hit restaurant industry. Grab the locally designed and produced t-shirts, hats, pint glasses, and totes ($8–$28), and all proceeds go to the CRA’s Angel Relief Fund to provide grants to hospitality workers experiencing hardship.

How to help: Order the goods here. Receive compliments, tell people where you got the cool gear, and be a walking fundraiser for restaurant folks. Or, upload a photo of your favorite Denver restaurant to the site’s digital mosaic, and SpotOn will make a donation to the Angel Relief Fund on your behalf.

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.