Biting into the future: restaurants roll out pay-first-eat-later initiative to help them weather the coronavirus storm

Empty tables, empty chairs. The lockdown has shut down business for cafés and restaurants. Kalbar/TFN

Restaurants, cafe, bars, and even theatres and barbers left grappling with the turmoil of lockdown have started to roll out an initiative that should alleviate some of the economic pain.

The Lunch Next initiative supports local businesses closed due to quarantine regulations by providing online vouchers, which can be used in the future.

The Lunch Next scheme could provide an much-needed source of income for struggling businesses.Lunch Next/Facebook

Initiated by Piotr Grudzień and Dominik Posmyk, Lunch Next is an online platform for business owners and their clients. Promoted with the slogan #savethesummer, its goal is to help companies weather the current storm and survive until they can be open for customers.

“The platform allows businesses to create and sell digital vouchers which can easily be shared and promoted on social media,” says its creators. “Thanks to customers' support, restaurants, coffee shops, barbers, beauty salons, theatres, and other service providers will not be left on their own in those difficult times. When places re-open, they will return the favour by offering discounts of up to 50 percent!”

The vouchers can be traded in for meal when restaurants open again.Kalbar/TFN

The platform, which is run pro-bono and with no fees for the entrepreneurs, is already used by over 100 companies in Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Germany. The duo behind it is open to making it available in other locations as well.

Using Lunch Next is as easy as it gets. As a customer, all you need to do is choose your favourite neighbourhood cafe or bar, choose the amount on your voucher and pay by card. The voucher will be then sent by email.

Along with restaurants, cafes and other businesses can take part in the initiative.Kalbar/TFN

As a pro bono initiative, Lunch Next is about supporting local businesses rather than making money and it does carry a risk. In response to the question of a restaurant's potential bankruptcy, the initiators said: “We hope that we'll be able to help as many businesses as possible in these difficult times so that this pessimistic scenario doesn't come to life. In case it does happen, please get in touch directly with the owner of the business (the business name is visible when purchasing vouchers).”

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