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MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 09: Ashley Clinton, the hostess, waits for customers behind a plexiglass partition at the KYU restaurant in Wynwood on July 09, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Former customers of La Belle Helene received some good news this week. The uptown Charlotte restaurant which closed its doors in 2020 will be reopening under new ownership this spring. But most restaurants that shut down during the pandemic probably won’t be getting a second chance like that.

According to the National Restaurant Association, approximately 17% of food service establishments in America went out of business in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. It will take a long time for the restaurant industry to recover from the shutdowns.

Locally-owned food businesses especially need your support over the next few months. If you have some favorite restaurants that you know you would miss if they closed, Today suggests these four ways to help keep them going:

  • Patronize them in whatever way is allowed
  • Tip well
  • Support local relief funds
  • Buy local restaurant gift cards for future use

Keep trying new restaurants, too. Who knows? Your next favorite may be one takeout order away. You can read more about the struggles and possible solutions for America’s restaurants HERE.

NYC restaurant during coronavirus pandemic lockdown

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images