Next Time You Eat Out, American Express Might Pay Your Bill

As restaurants nationwide continue to recover from the unfathomable toll that the global pandemic took on the food and beverage industry, two major companies are joining forces to support independent eateries across the U.S.

In a press release, American Express unveiled its new "Every Resy Counts" initiative in partnership with the restaurant reservation service Resy (which American Express owns), as part of a larger "Let's Grab a Table" campaign. The program, which aims to drive business to independently owned and operated restaurants throughout the month of March, will raise money for food and beverage industry relief efforts and reward diners nationwide with free meals in the process.

Studies have indicated that over 3.1 million food service industry jobs were lost and more than 110,000 restaurants were permanently shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (via International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health). Although the Biden administration signed a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund into law, Restaurant Hospitalities reports many independent eateries have still struggled to keep up financially in the face of pandemic restrictions, losses, and labor shortages.

American Express and Resy are hoping to encourage diners to support their local restaurants with their latest initiative. Throughout the month of March, for every 1 million reservations completed on Resy, different tiers of financial support for restaurant relief will be unlocked, including a $500,000 donation to Southern Smoke, a nonprofit emergency relief fund that has distributed nearly $9 million in emergency funds to individual food and beverage industry workers facing crises like medial bills, car accidents, and mental health needs.

Diners across the country will be surprised with free meals

For each subsequent millionth reservation made during March, American Express and Resy will also surprise diners across the country by picking up the tabs for hundreds of meals, gifting up to $99 per person or $594 per party. Diners can add to the overall reservation tally — and enter for their chance to win a free meal — by booking a reservation through Resy between March 1–31 (via Resy). 

"As we approach the two-year mark of the pandemic, [restaurateurs] continue to need community support to help make up for lost revenues," Elizabeth Rutledge, CMO of American Express, said in the announcement. "By rallying together, we hope to inspire consumers to grab a table at independent restaurants throughout March, and beyond, to help them continue to get back on their feet."

Previously, the financial services company has supported local restaurants through initiatives like the Backing Historic Small Restaurants grant program, which awarded $1 million in grants to 25 "historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. owned by underrepresented groups" in 2021. In addition to its long-running Small Business Saturday program, the company also ran an "Order In, Help Out" campaign last year, which encouraged consumers to order takeout during indoor dining closures (via Fast Casual).

While the restaurant biz will likely continue to feel the impact of the pandemic for years to come, consumers can help revive America's struggling independent restaurant industry by showing their financial support, one dine-in or take-out order at a time.