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Keep Cooking, Keep Connecting, and Keep the Pilot Light On with #RestaurantsRedefined

As governments enforce shelter-in-place orders across cities, states, and entire countries, we, the public, are grieving the loss of connection that happens over a meal at our favorite restaurant. We miss the food, of course, but also the lighting, the music, the vibe, and the familiar faces of the people who round out our experience. Restaurants aren’t just a place to get a plate; they’re a safe space to take refuge, find comfort, and feel a sense of belonging.

Restaurants, for many, are a special kind of home away from home.

The global pandemic of the novel coronavirus is forcing restaurants to close doors across the globe, and it’s heartbreaking to see beloved establishments shutter their windows and lay off familiar staff.

Here at Patreon we had a thought: what if they didn’t have to?

The Rise of a New Revenue Stream

What if restaurants, chefs, and creators of culinary arts could leverage membership to maintain and sustain a solid income during and after the pandemic?

When renowned chef, restaurateur, and filmmaker Tyler Florence reached out to us to talk about membership, we knew we were onto something.

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Tyler Florence recently launched a Patreon membership program for his legendary flagship restaurant — Wayfare Tavern — in the heart of San Francisco.

We recently sat down with Tyler to identify how restaurants can not only survive this crisis, but even thrive in the age of the new creative economy.

“Many people who are turning to fundraising sites are trying to get quick windfalls of cash, but that money will run out, if it comes in at all,” Tyler said. Tyler recently launched a Patreon program for Wayfare Tavern, his flagship restaurant in San Francisco.

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Until now, restaurants had to depend on a dollar-in-dollar-out business model. The only way to be successful was to ensure customers came through your door; now that doors are closed due to Covid-19, you can still keep cooking, keep connecting, and keep the proverbial pilot light on. With Patreon, your loyal customers and supporters can find and meet you online, and help finance your creative and culinary passions today, and in the future.

Patrons Crave the Comfort of Your Restaurant

Starting a membership program is a way for your customers and supporters to aid in the recovery and revival of restaurants—it’s more impactful than an occasional to-go order. Your supporters will be excited because this is an opportunity for them to actively participate in the success of your establishment month over month and still experience what they love about you and your cuisine; it’s their chance to be part of a movement that secures your future, and theirs. Remember, many of their meaningful memories, from first dates to family dinners, happened with you.

Everyone is looking for ways to connect and enjoy a level of comfort and continuity in these unprecedented times. Folks want to give back as much as they can rather than see you close down. You’ll find that some people will become patrons because they’re excited about your livestreams, recipes, or meal kits while others just want to help you stay afloat until your doors open. The good news is you can create your Patreon membership to suit your tastes and talents, while also offering benefits your customers will love.

Membership Works for Culinary Arts

Membership is as strong as ever. Over 150,000 businesses use Patreon to build a sustainable, reliable income and deepen relationships with their biggest supporters. Restaurants, chefs, and culinary artists can also achieve financial success by implementing a value-for-value exchange.

A membership takes three steps:

  1. Register on Patreon
  2. Setup benefits for your restaurant patrons
  3. Share your page with your community

Step 1: Register on Patreon

This step couldn’t be easier! Just click this link to get started.

Step 2: Set up benefits for your restaurant patrons

Using Patreon’s simple starter kits, restaurants determine the right tiers and benefits that would be both enticing to their most loyal customers and supporters as well as feasible given this new normal of social distancing. You can bring those existing activities to life via Patreon membership and add media components based on engagement and experience.

A sample structure could look like this:

Patron: $

  • Unlock patron-only posts
  • Personal thank you video
  • Exclusive recipes of our best dishes - make our food at home!
  • First to know about special events

All-Access Patron: $$

  • Priority primetime reservations
  • Monthly livestream (could be a Chef AMA or cooking class!)
  • Patron-only merch
  • Exclusive recommendations on what we’re eating & drinking this month
  • Everything in the previous tier

VIP Patron: $$$

  • Signed book sent directly to you
  • Your name on the menu when you dine with us
  • Complimentary cocktails for you and a guest when you dine with us
  • Everything in the previous tiers

Corporate Patron : $$$$

  • Private reservation line
  • Discounted private dining
  • Priority holiday party bookings
  • Annual farmer’s market tour
  • Everything in the previous tiers

Step 3: Share your page with your community

Once the tiers and benefits are finalized and the page is built with easy-to-edit images and text, it’s all about the digital launch. We encourage you to start talking about this new and exciting way to connect and experience your food over social media, and via email if you have contact lists. While the marketing aspect can appear daunting, don’t stress—we have a ton of resources to help you through this launching stage. We’re in this with you.

With your Patreon program out in the wild, you can iterate and adapt as you get feedback from your loyal customers and supporters. Together with your patrons you can experiment to find the offerings that fit. This is a challenging and uncertain time for local businesses and restaurants everywhere, but Patreon can help. Together we can begin a new era of #RestaurantsRedefined. Get started now.


Know a restaurant or chef who could benefit from a Patreon membership program? Help spread the word with these images and hashtag #RestaurantsRedefined

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