Face Masks available today – Friday, May 1


Tennessee Business Reopening Protocol

These are the guidelines released from the State on reopening the economy. We expect specific restaurant guidelines to be released this week.

Shelby County or Memphis may create their own (additional) guidelines in line with their reopening protocol and plans (along with dates that apply only to Shelby County or Memphis).

The “Tennessee Pledge” is a plan to help Tennesseans return to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods, and reboot our state’s economy.

The State is recommending safeguarding protocols for all businesses in Tennessee, including those that are re-opening and those essential businesses that have remained open during the Safer at Home order. These safeguarding protocols are based on the recommendations of the CDC and OSHA. To support the Pledge for Tennessee, all employers and employees should take steps to reopen safely, help other industries be able to open more quickly and help Tennessee remain healthy and open for business.

There are step-by-step guidelines in the full pdf document here.

This is a PowerPoint presentation with similar information.

This is the Press Release from Governor Bill Lee.

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Members Offering Cleaning Services and Cleaning Supplies


This post has been updated here to better reflect all of our members who offer COVID Supplies and Services.

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April 14 LBD Information (Updated)

LBD April Info

Liquor by the Drink To-Go Sales

Update 7/1/2020: Extended to Aug 29, 2020. See this post

Update 4/30/2020:

This link says “Restaurants, wine-only restaurants, and limited-service restaurants may continue to offer carryout and delivery of
alcoholic beverages until May 29, 2020, except as otherwise may be extended by Executive Order.”

Per the TN Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Executive Order 17 referring to liquor and wine being sold to-go has been extended to April 30. The reference is here.

Update 4/29/2020:

“…may deliver alcoholic beverages directly to consumers until further TABC guidance or executive order rescinds this directive…”

The reference is here.

Liquor by the Drink Taxes Due April 15

Our lobbying sources tell us that the TN Department of Revenue has resisted recommendations that payment of sales and LBD taxes be delayed but has suggested that they will look favorably upon applications to waive penalties.

To apply for a penalty waiver, click here.

Liquor by the Drink Licenses

Our lobbying sources tell us the director of the ABC says they will give licensees 60 days grace to renew. The reference for that information can be found here.

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Grants and Loans – Money Available for Businesses & Staff

grants and loans

Government Loans

SBA Loan page here. There are several grant and loan programs offered there.

PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) Loan application here. We’re putting all the info we know about it here but we’re not experts.
We encourage you to reach out to your banker, accountant, or tax attorney for more info.
The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. The SBA has announced that it will allow eligible small businesses and sole proprietorships to submit applications beginning Friday, April 3, 2020, and independent contractors and self-employed individuals to apply beginning April 10, 2020. For eligibility requirements and details about the program, visit sba.gov/ppp.

EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans)The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) can provide up to $2 million of financial assistance (actual loan amounts are based on the amount of economic injury) to small businesses or private, non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of the declared disaster.

Downtown Forgivable Loan The Downtown Business Continuity – Forgivable Loan Program (Program) is designed to assist eligible businesses that are in serious jeopardy of permanent closure due solely to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic impacts. A review of both the financial history and the current financial condition of the business will be used to determine the need and potential eligibility. The Program will provide direct financial assistance to existing, locally-owned, eligible businesses, with a preference for businesses operating continuously within the Central Business Improvement District (CBID) for a minimum of 12 months preceding the application submittal date. Applicants will also be considered if the business was open as of February 1, 2020, and the business owner/operator has a history of successful operations. Loan applications will be accepted beginning April 2, 2020, and end when the approved funding is depleted.

For Employees

Update 4/28/20 – The H.E.A.P initiative at the Kemmons Wilson School is aimed at helping hospitality employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing free CARE PACKAGES of groceries and household supplies that could last a family for a week. They plan to continue this effort until there is a need in the industry. They have several donors and partners joining in this effort. Read all about it here and find the link to submit your employees.

Hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis Foundation, the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund provides flexible funding to organizations serving people impacted by novel coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic in West Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. Give to this fund (earmarked for hospitality workers) here.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund which will provide $500 grants to restaurant industry employees who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, financially, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Apply here.

Donations that keep restaurants running

Update 4/22/20Tennessee Action for Hospitality has money available to distribute for independent business owners and their employees in the restaurant/bar business. Anyone whose qualifies across the entire State of Tennessee is available to sign up for the funds. The grants can be used for assistance with utilities, mortgages, etc.

Feed The Front Lines Memphis
In partnership with dozens of local restaurants, we are raising money to cater to those working long, stressful and heartbreaking hours on the front lines of this virus. Please join us as we try to lift up our local restaurants, as well as provide meals to those doctors and nurses fighting for us! #FeedTheFrontLines
You can give here.
Contact the program if you are a restaurant interested in preparing the meals.

Salvation Army
To donate to the Salvation Army click here.
They are employing local restaurants to prepare meals for those they serve, as the donations come in. To apply to be one of the restaurants on the list, email me.

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Apply for the Payroll Protection Program, Which Is Included in the Cares Act

Payroll Protection Program

Thank you to Farris Bobango Law Firm for providing us with these pdfs (PPP Overview Chart and Loan Forgiveness Chart). Please click (PPP Overview Chart and Loan Forgiveness Chart) which walks you through the details of the program. Their pdf has a much more thorough explanation than the blurbs below.

Can I apply for paycheck protection and an SBA disaster loan?
Yes, you can. However, you can’t apply for an SBA disaster loan for the same purpose as the Paycheck Protection Program. That being said, when you apply for the SBA disaster loan, you can also request a $10,000 emergency grant, interest-free. If approved, the SBA will provide the grant within three days.

What can I use the funds for?
You must acknowledge that the funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments. Funds you use for other purposes will not be eligible for forgiveness.


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TN 15% LBD Tax On Hold


Quote from TN Department of Revenue website (emphasis added):

Liquor-by-the-Drink Tax and Alcoholic Beverages for Consumption Off Premises

Governor Lee’s Executive Order no. 17 authorizes the temporary sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption off of the premises by a restaurant. For further details and requirements surrounding such sales, please see the Executive Order.

Because these sales are for consumption off the premises, the liquor-by-the-drink tax imposed by Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-4-301 does not apply. No liquor-by-the-drink tax should be charged on take-out or delivery sales while the Executive Order is in effect. Businesses should not collect the liquor-by-the-drink tax on these sales, either by adding tax to the menu price or including the tax in the menu price. Any liquor-by-the-drink taxes that are collected must be remitted to the department.

Please note that sales and use tax will continue to apply to these sales.

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Negotiating With Your Landlord


No one who works for the Memphis Restaurant Association is a commercial real estate agent or attorney. Please use this information at your own risk and/or consult a professional. Our recommendations are below.

We highly recommend professionally, diplomatically having a discussion with your landlord and keeping a level head. And we recommend having this discussion sooner rather than later. The earlier you start this discussion, the better.

For real estate help, reach out to Shawn Massey with TSCG at 901-461-7070.

If you’re looking for an attorney, please reach out to

Fisher Phillips, Evans Petree, or Waller. (All MRA members.)

This Daily Memphian article gives some more information and examples.

This is a great Memphis Business Journal article with more recommendations. (link here. pdf here.)

Please use the following tips in your conversations:

The most important factor in all of this is who the tenant is and how transparent they are willing to be. You should consider:

  1. Understand leverage based on size and scope.  How big is the restaurant in whatever center, and in the landlord’s overall portfolio?  Is it a local landlord or out of town?  How much does the restaurant drive traffic to the rest of the center – is it impactful in more ways to the landlord’s health and property if it closes?
  2. Understand the best and worst-case scenarios for their particular business.
  3. Understand the current impact on sales/performance.
  4. Understand what their “ask” really is.  This is likely an individual decision and will need to remain in flux as the grounds shift daily.  Be very thoughtful about this.
  5. Understand what their exposure is, provided they need to abate or completely discontinue rent payment, and for how long, or until X happens.
  6. Understand what BK looks like and how it’ll affect both them and their landlords.
  7. Seek legal counsel before any decisions are made.

We typically find in these situations that those tenants who are honest and who’ve put thought into their situation will be best suited to work together with their landlord partners. However, the blind “ask” for relief will likely get nowhere.

To close, I understand many lenders are going interest-only for a period of time.  So this would be a good question to ask the landlord – are you getting relief from your lender?  If the answer is yes – then they should extend relief to the tenant.  If not – the landlord should ask for interest-only relief before they say no to a tenant request for the same.

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Marketing and Compliance Tips for Delivery, To-Go, Curbside

parking lot

Update 4/15/2020:

Resources Available from ServSafe

Get your free ServSafe Food Handler courses, ServSafe Takeout and Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions video, as well as career-enhancing ServSuccess training courses here, and AHLEI courses here.

Update 3/31/2020:


Sysco Memphis, LLC. is offering a 🎥 webinar at two different times (11am & 2pm) on Wednesday, April 1st.

Learn about your opportunity to turn your restaurant into a Pop Up Grocery Shop during these critical times! 🍎🍐🍞🍳

Click this link for the webinar 4/1 at 11am

Click this link for the webinar 4/1 at 2pm 

Join the MRA for FREE until 7/1 here

Previous posts

This brochure from Ben E. Keith gives some excellent tips.

Set up curbside pickup, to-go ordering, drive-through if you are able, and delivery as soon as possible.

For assistance with curbside parking if you are downtown or in Midtown, click here.

If you don’t have online ordering, now is the time to get that setup. Click here for options from various POS companies.

Eschewing cash for other payments will deter this virus. Consider Venmo, Paypal, online payments, Apple Pay, and contactless readers. It is safer for your employees to not have to handle money, and it will instill a peace-of-mind in your customers as well.

Utilizing your own employees for delivery is a way to keep them working. If you are short-staffed, look at this post for companies that offer delivery.

Be sure to update everywhere with the services you are offering. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website, and email to your customers. If you are able to update your information on google and yelp, do so.

Print signage to display throughout your establishment. Use our Office Depot discount card for discounts on printing. These are just suggestions.

  • Display a sign on your front door that you are complying with the no-dine-in statewide mandate, and that you encourage only one member of the party to enter the store to pick up your order. Depending on the size of your restaurant, you may have to say “we are only allowing x number of patrons inside at one time.”
  • Clearly indicate with a sign where your drive-through or curbside parking is.
  • If your restrooms are open, display signage that restrooms are open to encourage good health. Something along the lines of “We have allowed our restrooms to remain open to encourage hand-washing. No more than 3 people allowed in the restroom at a time to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.” Keep those restrooms clean and stocked with soap, etc.
  • Maybe signs on the restroom doors that say “if you are able, grasp the handle with a paper towel instead of your hand.”
  • For your to-go line inside your restaurant, mark with tape or dots a queue which allows for 6-feet of distancing around each customer.

Here is an example from Walgreens:

Click for source – Twitter @NeimerDreamer

Please do all you can (signs, employee education, Facebook explanation on your business page, etc) to indicate that your businesses are complying with this ordinance and making an effort to serve the public while curtailing the virus. We hope this will allow our businesses to remain open for as long as possible, even with these restricted operations.

Update all your media channels to communicate if you are open or closed. Your customers will want to know.

Follow the rules:

  • From the City of Memphis: “Complaints about noncompliance can be sent on the Memphis Website via the “Message Us” tab. City Attorneys are reviewing the submissions and routing to the appropriate entity to respond. First a visit from Code Enforcement then MPD or Health Department. The penalty varies but could be misdemeanor citation and or revocation of beer permit, business license, etc. It is evolving.”
  • Please follow the rules, and we will do all we can do to advocate for you, but we remind you that “perception is everything” and the public is very frightened right now. To avoid unnecessary interruptions to your business, read on:
  • It is not against the rules to have more than 10 people in your establishment
    • If they are not congregating in one party or group
    • If they are standing 6 feet apart or more
    • If they are not dining in your restaurant
    • If they are not loitering or lingering after they pick up their to-go order
  • Encourage only one person per party to enter the restaurant
  • Encourage curbside over takeout if possible. Encourage delivery “drop and go” over curbside if possible.
  • Discourage children and large families – on the phone when your customer places the order, remind them “we prefer if just one person from your party picks up the order and we will bring it to your car.”
  • You are not responsible for groups that linger outside your business, however, you should not be promoting outside dining on your patio.
  • Do all you can do to play your part in slowing this virus. It is important for your customers, the public, and the City to perceive that restaurants are doing everything in their power to follow rules and promote public health.

Please remove all your patio and outdoor furniture, or somehow indicate that it is out of commission. (See example image below.) Unfortunately, the public cannot be trusted to abide by social distancing when they are tempted with outdoor seating. We are seeing customers pick up take-out food, then sit outside at the restaurant’s seating and consume their food in groups, in numbers too large to prevent the spread of the virus.

Click for source: Amazon
Click for source: Fixtures Close Up

More ideas from Dining Alliance (their website here has even more ideas):


  1. Add “Grocery Essentials” to all of your online menus, especially your delivery apps like DoorDash, Grubhub, and others. A grocery type item can be added under the “sides menu” or you can often create a special category like “Save a trip to the grocery Store!” You likely have a lot of these items on hand already and your distributors have a ton of inventory for you to pull if these sales go well. (See Examples of Other Operators Grocery Lists at our Operator Support Center)
    1. Create a Pre-set “Pantry Box” of these items – produce items, disposables, eggs, milk, bread, any frozen or fresh protein item that makes sense at a fixed price per box – $20 to $40.
    2. Promote the sale of these boxes on all of your social media and other online outlets.
  2. Setup a small “Market” in the front of the store. Ask all pickup customers if they are in need of any of your market items.
  3. Check to see if your state has waived laws to allow wine, beer and alcohol to be sold for off-premise consumption. Many states already have, such as CT and FL. If your state hasn’t, email and call local politicians and send the articles from the States that have.
  4. Call any of your contacts at local public schools and see if there is a way for you to tap into the Free and Reduced Lunch funds for food for families in need. The news media has talked a lot about the plans to feed kids during this shut-down. There are creative ways for restaurants to contribute their resources to this cause.
  5. If you have had to lay off a lot of your staff and not sure you can operate a takeout and delivery operation you should email your laid off or furloughed staff and ask them if they want to come in to help. Perhaps you can only pay them in a free meal right now, but I think you may be surprised by how many staff members will want to help you and get out of their houses for a shift.
  6. Create a “Meal Kit” for your signature dishes, similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Package all the raw ingredients and a recipe or take a self-made video of you or chef preparing that meal and include a link to that video recipe instruction. Again, list this Meal Kit on all your digital menus, especially on your delivery apps.

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3rd Party Delivery Services


These are the 3rd party companies that we know of to help with delivery. The MRA is currently looking for contacts at each of these companies. Please reach out if you know of one.

Uber Eats – sign up your restaurant here

  • UberEats is temporarily stopping delivery fees for more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the U.S. and Canada and assisting with marketing efforts.

Meals in Motion – contact them here

GrubHub – sign up your restaurant here

  • GrubHub will suspend collection of up to $100 million in commission payments for independent restaurants and assist in marketing efforts.

Postmates – sign up your restaurant here

  • Postmates is dropping delivery fees by half from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on orders of $10 or more through March 31st

DoorDash – sign up your restaurant here

  • Doordash & Caviar are offering independent restaurants in the United States free sign up and zero commissions for 30 days. Existing restaurant partners will pay no commission on pick-up orders and can receive assistance with marketing.

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