May 14, 2020 • Food5 min read

How to support hospitality businesses during Coronavirus (a guide for individuals & companies)

The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so here’s how you can support your local restaurants, bars, cafes, and small businesses while the UK remains in lockdown.

At City Pantry, we champion local businesses by partnering with small (and large) restaurants and caterers around the UK to provide delicious food for offices. However, the landscape has changed drastically in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the hospitality sector is struggling. Fortunately, there are still ways you and your company can help to support your local hospitality businesses - and we’ll tell you how in five simple steps.

On March 21 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of pubs, clubs, and restaurants across London in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. According to the Financial Times, this move has put millions of jobs at risk, with the UK’s leisure and hospitality sector taking the hardest hit. 

Around 3.2 million people in the UK worked in the hospitality sector prior to the crisis, but according to the results of a survey conducted by UKHospitality, the UK’s leading hospitality trade association, 84% of staff in the sector have been furloughed, and 2% have been made redundant. 48% of hospitality businesses have applied for loans, but 57% of those that have received a response have been rejected.

So, how can you and your company support the hospitality sector during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

1. Shop local

illustration of bag with text saying 'Thank you for shopping with us! (online)'

Supporting small, local, and independent businesses over big corporations is a crucial part of keeping the UK hospitality sector going throughout these tricky times. Buy your coffee beans from the neighbourhood cafe rather than the supermarket, take an online class hosted by the local yoga studio, or order a takeaway from your favourite independent restaurant (more on that later!). 

Many restaurants, cafes, bars, and cinemas are also selling online gift cards and vouchers while their doors are shut to the public. Individuals can buy these vouchers and claim them at a later date, when things are a little more ‘normal’. This initiative helps keep business afloat while they can’t trade as usual, and it gives you something to look forward to once we’re allowed out again!

What can your company do to help small businesses in the hospitality sector?

If you can, set aside some money to create a WFH (work-from-home) wellness budget, which your employees can use for online fitness classes, meals, and other mood-boosting socially distant activities. 

2. Get creative in the kitchen with DIY meal kits

person in yellow jumper making pizza dough

Imagine being able to create your favourite restaurant burgers, pizzas, and pasta dishes at home? Well, now you can! Social distancing has brought about a wave of innovation, with restaurants and bars changing up their business models to offer DIY meal kits of their most popular recipes for customers to try at home.

Not only does it help pay to keep staff working, but it also benefits producers, farmers, and other businesses within the supply chain too.

How can your company get involved, we hear you ask? Well, at City Pantry we’ve partnered with loads of small, independent restaurants and catering businesses to bring your teams@home the ultimate WFH work perk - food boxes delivered to their doorstep contact-free!

Our teams@home Pantry Packages service is a great way of supporting your remote teams while helping local hospitality businesses thrive. 

Here are some of the best DIY meal kits available via Pantry Packages:

- BBQ, brunch, and Sunday roast boxes from Country City Catering 

- Cocktail kit from The Libation Station

- Homemade pasta kit - Dominique Ansel Bakery

- Pizza kit from Crust Bros

- Salad, bourguignon, and roast dinner recipe boxes from Spier’s Salad

Order DIY kits for your colleagues now by clicking this link to our Pantry Packages info page.

3. Order a takeaway (or two!)

loads of takeaway food items on blue background

While restaurants, bars, and cafes remain closed for sit-in customers, plenty of them are still offering takeaway services, and with many of us working from home, ordering a takeout gives us a little break from cooking day in day out.

If you’d like to support takeaway-only restaurants as a company while boosting team morale, why not buy some of our teams@home gift cards, which your colleagues can redeem through Just Eat. With 37,500 restaurant partners in the UK alone, there’s plenty of options to choose from!

Here’s how it works:

1. Let us know your budget and how many gift cards you need for your teams@home.

2. We’ll send the codes to your colleagues directly, or you can send them yourself.

3. Your colleagues apply the gift card codes to their Just Eat accounts.

4. Then they can use the credit to order a meal through the Just Eat website or app.

Easy peasy. 

Your teams@home get a tasty meal, you get better employee engagement levels, and the UK hospitality sector gets a boost. Win-win.

4. Donate to charities supporting those affected by the Coronavirus crisis

The NHS workers holding up bags of donated food

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that community is everything, and as a result, many charities and businesses have sprung into action to help those at the forefront of the crisis. As a country, we’ve witnessed an unbelievable national effort to support frontline workers and vulnerable communities in times of uncertainty. 

We launched our own #FeedYourCommunity initiative alongside some of our vendor partners, food-redistribution charity City Harvest, NHS hospitals, and shelters with the aim of feeding key workers, care homes, those in need around London.

So far we’ve delivered over 30,000 meals and sweet treats! While some of the meals are donated by the restaurant, many are paid for by our regular customers who are donating their usual lunch budget to cover the vendor’s costs. This helps support local food businesses while keeping frontline staff and vulnerable people well-fed.

In order to donate meals to the #FeedYourCommunity initiative, please contact your Account Manager or email foodguru@citypantry.com

5. Like, share, and engage on social media

instagram icon on a slate background with rainbow colours shining onto it

We know that it’s a tough time for all, and not everyone or every company has the financial means to support local hospitality businesses with cash. But you can still support them with likes, shares, and comments.

Word of mouth is a really powerful marketing tool, and the rise in social media has made it even easier to engage with a far-reaching audience without having to spend a penny. 

If money is tight at the moment, head to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp, or Tik Tok and shout from the rooftops about your favourite local restaurants, cafes, Zoom yoga classes, and more! 

Like, comment on, and share on their social media posts - because free publicity is always welcome. You could also leave a glowing review of your experiences on Trustpilot, Google, and Facebook to encourage others to spend their money with those local businesses.

If own or work for a company with a strong social media presence, think about using that platform to shine a light on local hospitality businesses that you regularly use (during ‘normal times’). Share their current offerings with your colleagues and social media followers. 

After all, sharing is caring, and it might just help the businesses you love to survive.


So, there you go - five simple steps you and your company can follow to support local hospitality businesses during the Coronavirus crisis. It’s been said many times before, but we’ll say it again:

We’re all in this together. 

And as a community of individuals and businesses, we can - and need to - help each other out during these challenging times. 

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