From the 4th to 19th of September is Scottish Food & Drink fortnight. It’s an annual celebration of its vast and diverse local food and drink producers, businesses and companies from across the nation.

Living in Scotland for the last (almost) 10 years, it has become like home. So in a way of giving thanks, as it were, I am passionate about supporting and celebrating local businesses and producers.

In light of the recent pandemic, it has been more challenging than ever for businesses of all types to survive. The restaurant industry is no exception.

So it seemed fitting for me to write a blog post about how we can support local restaurants not only during Scottish Food & Drink fortnight, but in the longer term as well. Here are a couple of free ways you can support your local restaurants.

1. Be courteous when making reservations

Understandably, sometimes life is just unpredictable. You couldn’t forsee that you got stuck in traffic for an hour, or that gran came round with shepherd’s pie (and can’t take no for an answer).

But a big way you can support local restaurants is to cancel if you can’t make your reservation. A quick phone call not only frees up the table for another customer, but also helps the staff manage their workflow better. There’s nothing worse than being stood up.

cannoli stacked in cafe window
1/1000 | f/2.8 | 35mm | ISO 200

2. Support local establishments (rather than big chains)

Perhaps there’s that local Italian that you’ve always been meaning to try, or the takeaway that’s just a couple of minutes further than Domino’s. I’d encourage you to choose local establishments when you can.

By supporting these smaller local restaurants it not only helps economically, but also boost employee morale and gives back to the community.

3. Share your favourite places on social media

Instagram has become a social platform that acts like a search engine. People use the app to search for products, services and restaurants.

So, sharing a snap you took of a delicious meal you had can do wonders for that restaurant’s PR.

4. Leave positive reviews 

Word of mouth is still one of the best forms of marketing. Let’s be honest, how many times have you gone to a restaurant or seen a film because it was recommended to you? On the flip side, how many times would you eat at a restaurant that your friend gave a bad review for…

A study1 has shown that

87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses

and

Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars

Consumers today rely heavily on googling a restaurant before deciding whether or not to visit it. I can say 99% of the time I consider trying a new restaurant, I look it up first to check the location, menu and reviews. More often than not, a string of poor reviews discourage me from visiting a particular restaurant.

So whether it’s through TripAdvisor, Google or Facebook, taking 5 minutes to write a short review goes a long way!

5. Buy vouchers

While your favourite local restaurants might not be open (yet), ask if you can buy a voucher for a future visit. Not only is it a way to support local businesses, but it’s also to introduce your friends and family to your favourite places to eat.

In conclusion

There are many ways we can support local restaurants that don’t require spending loads. Recently something I’ve been doing is taking my camera with me to restaurants and taking photos of the meals, the space etc. then gifting a selection of the best images to the restaurant. I get to sharpen my restaurant photography skills and they get to have a couple of images they can use on their website or social platform – it’s a win win.

I’d encourage you to try some of these tips or share some of your own ways (down in the comments!) you can support local restaurants where you can. Our community is stronger when we work together, after all.

References

1 Local Consumer Review Survey 2020

The Impact of Online Reviews on Customer Decisions

From sharing to searching: The rise of Instagram as a search engine

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Restaurant photography at Stack & Still Edinburgh

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