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The Great American Takeout: How You Can Help Restaurants During COVID-19

#TheGreatAmericanTakeout: How You Can Help Restaurants During COVID-19

Practically every industry across the globe is feeling the effects of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. From entertainment to retail, this pandemic is causing businesses to shut down their operations for the foreseeable future. One industry, in particular, is likely to feel the effects of this global crisis for months — if not years — to come: the restaurant industry.

States and cities across the United States have mandated that restaurants must close their dining rooms in order to stem the spread of the dangerous coronavirus. Restaurants can offer takeout and delivery, but the regular revenue from these services certainly don’t equal what can be made with a fully-open establishment.

#TheGreatAmericanTakeout: How You Can Help Restaurants During COVID-19

That’s why a coalition of restaurants in the U.S. is asking consumers to participate in “The Great American Takeout” on Tuesday, March 24. This grassroots effort, led by the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout on social media, encourages consumers to order at least one pick-up or delivery meal on Tuesday. With many Americans practicing social distancing and making all of their own meals over the past couple of weeks, the push to order out is likely a welcome one. And with delivery options available, the effort is still accessible to the 10% of the world’s population who live with a disability and may not be able to go to a restaurant to pick up their food.

The Great American Takeout: How You Can Help Restaurants During COVID-19

photo courtesy of @edisonclarabarton

Some of the brands in the coalition promoting The Great American Takeout include California Pizza Kitchen, Panera Bread, El Torito, and The Habit Restaurants Inc. Many other restaurants, varying in size from large chains to local businesses, are joining in the effort as well.

“This is no longer about the survival of individual restaurants. It’s about the future of our industry. And time has run out. Together, we must act to support each other and our communities in unprecedented ways,” said Russ Bendel, CEO of Habit Restaurants, in a statement.

In addition to the obvious challenge of only being able to offer takeout and delivery, this campaign hopes to raise awareness of the other obstacles restaurants face in the time of coronavirus. Without the revenues that dining-in provides, many restaurants have been unable to keep their employees on the payroll. Tax season will also bring challenges to the restaurant industry. Corporate income taxes comprise about 11% of the taxes collected by the federal government, but this number might look very different when the government collects for 2020, as many restaurants will have been fully closed for a good portion of the year. Efforts like #TheGreatAmericanTakeout campaign hope to offset this future burden by generating revenue and awareness now.

photo courtesy of @falasophy

Participating in The Great American Takeout is easy, as well as tasty. To spread awareness of the campaign, the coalition is asking consumers to post on social media in advance of the event and encourage their followers and friends to take part in the campaign’s hashtag. The coalition is also asking consumers to engage their friends, family, and coworkers in the effort by directly asking them to order takeout meals from local restaurants.

The final part of participating in this delectable event is to order takeout or delivery for at least one meal on March 24. This means you could order your favorite coffee made from specialty beans, which account for just 3% of global coffee production, with a bacon, egg, and cheese for breakfast or get that curry you’ve been craving from your favorite Thai restaurant for dinner. Or do both! No matter what you order, the coalition wants participants to share the photos of the meal on social media and tag them with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout.

Of course, ordering takeout and delivery for just one day isn’t going to solve the restaurant industry’s problem. It’s still uncertain how long the COVID-19 pandemic will keep cities and states in lockdowns. To continually support restaurants during these troubled times, the coalition is also urging consumers to keep ordering takeout regularly in the weeks and months ahead. Community-based efforts like this just might be the key to keeping everyone healthy, fed, and funded for as long as the pandemic continues.

Will you help support the restaurant industry but participating in #TheGreatAmericanTakeout?

What’s New for Spring and Summer Travel at Busch Gardens

Still wondering what to do over spring break? Busch Gardens may be the perfect place. Thrill seekers, beach bums, animal lovers, foodies, concert enthusiasts, and those looking for a bit of everything can find it in the Tampa theme park. We got a taste of it two weeks ago when animal ambassadors and representatives from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay came to New York armed with VR headsets and a lively presentation to give us the latest scoop on all the new and exciting changes happening.

Rollercoaster lovers rejoice—Busch Gardens is an adrenaline lovers’ dream. Named the Coaster Capital, it offers some of the most adventurous rides in all of Florida. Opened in the summer of 2016, the Cobra’s Curse features a 30,000-pound snake with a 70-foot vertical lift that takes riders around 2,100 feet of snaking, spinning, and sometimes backward barreling tracks at 40mph. If your motto is “the faster, the better”, then Busch Gardens’ three-launch homage to the fastest land mammal, the Cheetah Hunt, is your ride. Appropriately starting at the Cheetah Run, guests speed through 4,400 feet of track at 60mph careening racing over bystanders and actual cheetahs.

For those looking to get in touch with their wild(life) side, spend some time getting to know the unique residents of one of America’s largest zoos. Against the backdrop of Times Square, we were introduced to Ringo the ring-tailed lemur, Peaches the cockatoo, Willow the wallaby, Emmett the screech owl, and two Madagascar tenrecs, Spike (pictured) and Star.

We learned a lot about these animals—for example, tenrecs, which are not to be mistaken for hedgehogs, are shy nocturnal insect eaters who can hang on trees upside down using tiny sharp claws. Emmett the owl was so engrossed in the M&M billboard across the way, it was hard to get his attention and have him turn his head back 270-degrees to face our cameras. Likewise, park guests can learn more about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts from the many experts in the park. Additionally, park goers can also opt for a safari experience on a 65-acre open-air vehicle on the Serengeti Plain. Through a VR experience, we got a feel for the 30-minute tour that allows you to hand-feed giraffes, spot rhinos, and drive along galloping antelopes and zebras. On top of that, be ready to see some seriously adorable baby animals. The park has recently experienced a baby boom with two new giraffes, sloths, and orangutans.

If all that sounds a lot and you’d rather take it easy with some food, drinks, and entertainment, the Food and Wine Festival returns with a selection of over 65 wines, 50+ craft beers and cocktails, and delectable cuisine all while watching musical acts. The Festival runs through April 29th and will feature acts such as TLC, Flo Rida, and Boyz II Men.

And of course, what would a visit to Florida be without a trip to the beach? Luckily, St. Petersburg Clearwater beach is just a few minutes away. With plenty of hotel partners that provide daily shuttles to Busch Gardens, you don’t really have to choose between thrills and relaxation.

For more watery fun, there’s also Adventure Island—Busch Garden’s sister water park filled with water-drenched fun, combining excitement with a soothing Key West vibe. New this year is Vanish Point, a 70-foot speed slide challenging park goers to choose from one of two skyboxes that will determine how they go down 425 feet of spiraling tubes. Adventure Island also has the wet and swirling Colossal Curl, a children’s playground, raging rapids, and cabanas to relax in.

Spring Break isn’t the only time to plan your Busch Gardens getaway, there are plenty of events and themes to check out all year round. Aside from the Food and Wine Festival, there will also be a Jack Hana weekend, extended summer hours (when you can ride coasters at night), a Guy Harvey weekend, Bierfest, Christmas Town, and so much more.