Note: This article is a paid placement and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Billy Penn at WHYY.

When the realities of COVID-19 hit in March, restaurants across the U.S. were forced to rethink their business models. To help the industry survive, DoorDash, a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses, launched Main Street Strong, a series of initiatives to help independent and local restaurants stay open.

Watch honeygrow founder and CEO Justin Rosenberg describe how his company went from 60% dine-in orders to 100% mobile app orders during COVID.

Since March, DoorDash’s Main Street Strong relief programs have saved restaurants more than $120 million dollars, according to a report from research and consulting firm Technomic. Nearly two-thirds of restaurants said they were able to increase profits during the pandemic because of DoorDash, the study found. Asked to select how they used the money saved from the relief or marketing programs, restaurants responded:

  • 43% – Stay open/not go out of business
  • 30% – Invest in repairs/remodeling
  • 26% – Pay food/supply bills
  • 20% – Pay utility bills
  • 18% – Pay rent/mortgage
  • 13% – Retain staff
  • 10% – Hire additional staff

A wide range of Philadelphia restaurants took advantage of these programs, from healthy fast-casual Honeygrow to classic South Philly stand Geno’s Steaks. Watch owner Geno Vento give a testimonial about how DoorDash supported his business.

The company’s efforts to support local communities have expanded rapidly during recent months. Project DASH, DoorDash’s flagship social impact program launched in 2018, uses the organization’s logistics platform to address hunger and restaurant food waste.

In May, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and DoorDash announced a public-private collaboration, which, in addition to expanding financial, health, and child-care related support to DoorDash and Caviar Dashers, arranged to have Project DASH deliver groceries, meals, and supplies to low-income, home-bound seniors and others in need. With additional coordination from Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia and Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Project DASH has connected an estimated 65,000 meals to Pennsylvanians who need them during the first half of 2020 alone.

Winter is coming, along with new opportunities

With winter looming, DoorDash is preparing new programs to support restaurants and communities through what will likely be challenging times.

DoorDash has allocated $2 million in grants for local restaurants with three or fewer locations needing to adapt to operations in cold weather. Available in six cities, including Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Denver, San Jose and San Francisco, applications opened Oct. 16 and are administered via Hello Alice. Eligible restaurants could receive grants of up to $5,000, which can be directed toward implementing changes to adapt to colder temperatures, such as buying heating equipment or additional PPE for increased indoor dining.

In addition, DoorDash is launching a new nationwide effort to help restaurants strengthen and grow sales. This includes running “Winter Wednesday” promotions through the season, beginning with $0 delivery fees on orders for local restaurants every Wednesday in December and additional discounts for DashPass customers throughout the same month, to help increase sales for its local partners.

DoorDash says it wants to help restaurants reimagine and grow their businesses, and to that end is offering commission-free partnership options, for a limited time.

Storefront, a new offering that powers online pickup and delivery directly from a restaurant’s website, has extended its zero-commission pricing through March 31, 2021, to help restaurants through the winter months. New Storefront accounts must be set up by Dec. 31, 2020 to qualify for the offer.

With more than 1,100 places available to order from in Philadelphia, DoorDash is helping connect local restaurants with the people they serve.