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Eat IN Connecticut Launches #BEKINDtoRestaurants

Cedar Plank Salmon and Grandma's Ravioli from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

West Hartford-based Eat IN Connecticut has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the challenges restaurants are facing “behind the scenes,” to create a more understanding, patient and KIND dining community.

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The foodie team behind Eat IN Connecticut, a Connecticut Food & Drink Instagram account and Facebook Group with a community of 40K, has launched #BeKindToRestaurants – a social media campaign to support the food and drink industry.

#BEKINDtoRestaurants will give the public a behind-the-scenes look at Connecticut restaurants to gain a deeper appreciation for, and a better understanding of, the current climate and hurdles our restaurants and bars are facing. The goal is to help the dining public become more aware of the challenges restaurants are facing, in hopes of creating more understanding, support, and patience within the dining community.

The message is simple: BE KIND when you dine.

The campaign launch on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, will include a series of posts on the @eatinconnecticut IG page that show the audience a “behind-the-scenes” look at restaurants through pictures taken (and provided by) participating restaurants. These images will be accompanied by a statement or quote from the restaurant about what’s really happening behind the scenes right now. Within the post will be the hashtag #BEKINDtoRestaurants.

“There is a real need to create more awareness about the challenges our restaurants are enduring right now, from lack of staff, to higher food costs, to supply chain issues, etc. because at the end of the day, our restaurants are barely holding on,” said Kristen Fritz of Eat IN Connecticut. “We hope that by showing the dining community what is really happening behind the scenes, it will in turn create a more appreciative, patient, and kinder dining community.”

The challenges are being faced at all levels of the restaurant industry, including food trucks. Image of East West Grill food truck, courtesy of Eat IN Connecticut

As seen on countless restaurant and bar social media feeds, the food and drink industry is being faced with multiple hurdles right now, many of which go completely unnoticed to the general dining community, leaving patrons frustrated or confused when dining out, sometimes resulting in negative experiences for the patron. From longer wait times, to smaller menus, to their favorite restaurant that seemed incredibly busy one day to suddenly closing their doors the next, patrons are often left wondering why.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association and shared via the CT Restaurant Association:

  • 75% of Connecticut operators say their sales volume in August 2021 was lower than it was in August 2019.
  • 78% of Connecticut operators say their restaurant currently does not have enough employees to support its existing customer demand.
  • 79% of operators say their total labor costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • 90% of operators say their total food costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The data above clearly shows why people have lost their smile. An industry that allows many of us to break bread with others, celebrate special moments, raise money for local organizations, and forge new experiences is struggling … badly. And as the winter season approaches, it will only get more challenging.

“Connecticut’s restaurant industry was among the first and most directly impacted by the pandemic, and while things have begun to improve, this core sector of our economy and its many employees are still not back to normal,” said Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Industry. “In fact, nearly half of Connecticut restaurants say their sales remain lower than they were a year ago, and 78% say they still don’t have enough employees to meet customer demand. In this difficult time, it’s critically important that we all demonstrate understanding and patience for our hardworking restaurant workers.”

“Food makes people happy, and even when the chips are down, our restaurateurs have rallied and supported our community in more ways than most,” said Jeannette Dardenne of Eat IN Connecticut. “We should all remember that restaurants have always been here for us and are regularly asked to help the community, whether it’s through a donation of gift cards or support in fundraisers for schools and local organizations, not to mention many who have given generously to hospitals and front line workers over this pandemic. Now, it’s time to give back to them.”

The foodie community at @eatinconnecticut is encouraged to help spread the message to #BEKINDtoRestaurants by sharing posts and joining in the conversation. AND if you work within the food and beverage industry and would like to participate, please DM us @eatinconnecticut on Instagram.

About Eat IN Connecticut:

The Eat IN Connecticut team has been developing and implementing campaigns to raise awareness for the food & drink industry since 2014. From its inception, the goal has always been to bring foodies and restaurant insiders together to dish about the food and drink scene across the state. From the #CTLovesPR campaign held years ago that raised over $10k to the beloved 86D: A Culinary Competition, events that gave chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of an engaging audience, Eat IN Connecticut continues to connect the general population with the chef community, and to give a behind the scenes look into Connecticut’s restaurant industry.

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