Help Main Street: Helping restaurants affected by COVID-19

Lunchbox Editorial

As we speak, nearly 7,000 Americans have been infected by COVID-19. The deadly pandemic isn?t just robbing people of their peace of mind; it?s also depriving families of their livelihoods.

As the virus sweeps through the States, restaurants and businesses are forced to shut down as the government takes necessary precautions to prevent its spread. For most of these eateries, no dine-ins mean no sales, so they can no longer afford to keep their locations running. It isn?t even a matter of profitability ? businesses in the hospitality industry are simply struggling to make ends meet these days.

And what of customers?

Well, many of us have a personal connection to restaurants that make the food that we know and love. This health crisis is threatening these spaces where we?ve all spent countless hours with friends and families, making many memories and eating good food. It?s no secret that the situation is dire, and if restaurants can?t find a solution to help them stay afloat, chances are they will have to shut down for good. That?s why we?ve teamed up with our partners to save your local restaurants.

?Help Main Street? To The Rescue

Help Main Street is an initiative to give back to our cherished restaurants. A response to closing dine-in restaurants and other foodservice options that deserve our help. The ‘Help Main Street’ initiative is powered by Lunchbox and Eniac Ventures along with an amazing team of volunteers that span the country. Together, we have created a way to empower you, the customers, to pay restaurants for meals you can eat later.

Entrepreneur and investor Nihal Mehta takes the lead, as the community steps forward to make a change and help restaurant owners put food on their own tables. It isn?t just owners that benefit from your help: servers, hosts, cooks, and chefs all depend on their restaurants for work. If restaurants go out of business, people lose their jobs ? and they can?t afford to provide for their families, especially when restrained by self-quarantine and lockdown. So we chose to help. 

How It Works

Think of it as an interest-free loan to help your cherished restaurants sustain their livelihoods. When you purchase a gift card for your local restaurants, you are essentially paying them in advance for the services they?ll provide you in the near future.

That way, during this tough period, they can withstand the toll coronavirus is taking on their businesses. They can utilize the funds now, instead of having to struggle for it until they get paid later. Below are a few ways you can help out too:

If you?re a business with a gift card program:

please jump on helpmainstreet.com and see if your venue is listed. If it isn?t, click the?Don?t see your favorite business?? button and fill out your details. You should see your venue listed shortly or someone will be back to you within 48 hours.

If you?re a business without a gift card program:

we?re working on providing infrastructure for you to easily 1) set up a gift card and/or 2) set up a (recurring) donation infrastructure so you can easily solicit donations from your patrons to stay afloat. We hope to have this ?v2? functionality live by the end of March.

If you?re a consumer:

we hope you will hop on, share our site with your friends and across social media. Buy a few gift cards now ? for use later ? and give a critical cash infusion to some of your favorite businesses. Our site is nationwide ? with 13,000 merchants and growing. 100% of all proceeds go to the merchant of your choice, we are merely a pass-through-destination that collects $0, just routes traffic.

If you are connected to a Mayor?s office, the Governor?s office, City Chamber of Commerce:

Reach out at info@helpmainstreet.com. All of our data is open source and we?d love to share with any partners (the more the merrier since the merchants see more distribution!) and we have an easy CSV file format for anyone to bulk upload merchants we don?t currently have listed.

Project Engineers

Andrew Boryk

Mohammad Afzal

Randall Huynh

Kim Francisco

Shuai Wang

Yvan Pangilinan

Hadi Rashid

Jared Giangrasso

David Dataram

Isaiah Sanchez

Marija Golubovic

Nadeem Alamgir

Project Contributors

Nihal Mehta

Oleg Kogan

Kevin Weatherman

Lyel Resner

Dmitry Koltunov

Brian Sirgutz

Tejpaul Bhatia

Shilpi Roongta

Shala Burroughs


Bing Chou

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