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Ever thought of a restaurant gift card like a zero-interest loan to that restaurant? A dining bond is a discounted gift card you buy now to redeem later.

Like a zero-interest loan, when we buy gift cards, we give the restaurant money they can use immediately, but we plan to cash it in later. And like a savings bond, you can get a discount on the face value of a gift card at many restaurants right now and then return to use the gift card later, when it’s finally safe to dine in again.

It’s exactly what one organization, SupportRestaurants.org, is suggesting we all do.

When you visit SupportRestaurants.org, you’ll find a map of restaurants all around the world who are participating. And while each individual restaurant sets the rules for their gift cards, when you purchase from these restaurants, you’re investing in the local economy by helping them keep their doors open for the next month or so.


What is a dining bond?

A couple dines out at an Italian restaurant.

I’m sure you’ve heard suggestions to support local businesses by purchasing gift cards now to use later.

Dining bonds are basically gift cards that you buy from participating restaurants for less than the face value of the card. If you’re familiar with Raise.com, it’s like that, except these are mostly local restaurants, not national chains, which you would find on Raise.com. The benefit of dining bonds is that your favorite local restaurant receives the full cash amount right there and then, helping to keep them in business just a bit longer.

So, for example, you would pay $75 for a $100 gift card to a local restaurant.

Of course, you won’t use your restaurant gift card until dining rooms open up again. But the money you spend on the gift card is cash restaurants can use right now to keep their staff paid and their doors open.


How do I know if my favorite restaurant is participating?

Map of participating restaurants in the U.S.

Check the SupportRestaurants.org map to find out which local joint in your area is participating. Scrolling through the list of participating restaurants, I don’t see any big-name chains like Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory — the focus is 100% on supporting local restaurants.

And don’t worry — it’s free to participate because you’re buying dining bonds through the restaurant directly. SupportRestaurants.org exists to connect people with restaurants offering dining bonds.



Will my dining bond expire before I can use it?

Plate of gourmet food.

Restaurants set their own redemption dates, but it’ll be between 30-60 days from when you buy the dining bond. It’s fair to assume that if a city is still under a shelter-in-place order beyond the timeframe of your dining bond, the restaurant would offer flexibility. Or you could try to use curbside service with your dining bond if the restaurant offers that option.

Check with your restaurant to find out the terms and conditions of their dining bonds.


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I don’t see my favorite local restaurant listed on the SupportRestaurants.org map. Can they join?

A salmon dish at a fine dining restaurant.

Absolutely! Tell your restaurant about the program and encourage them to sign up online by filling out a Dining Bonds application.


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Support Local Restaurants Now, Dine Out Later with Dining Bonds