When COVID-19 hit, many industries suffered a loss. Maryland’s restaurant and foodservice industry has lost approximately $1.4 billion in sales and an estimated 150,000 restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed. Early on, approximately 45 percent of restaurants in Maryland were closed due to the pandemic with a projection that 25 percent will close permanently.

Understanding the need to help its restaurant industry prepare for recovery, The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) in consultation with officials from the National Restaurant Association, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and University Food Science Representatives, developed a thorough plan that addressed guidelines and recommendations for a phased approach to safely reopen restaurants in Maryland. RAM represents more than 2,000 foodservice and hospitality businesses including restaurants, caterers, bars & taverns, food trucks, grocery stores, hotels, and other businesses that serve food.

In an effort to help spread awareness for this plan and advocate for the safe reopening of the restaurant and foodservice in Maryland, Maroon PR worked with RAM to create and execute the Restaurants are Ready campaign, pushing for the industry to be included in the state’s Road to Recovery efforts.

This robust public relations campaign was aimed at spreading public awareness for Maryland restaurants and associated food service businesses to show they were prepared to open safely and quickly.

Maroon PR developed a logo and campaign hashtag, along with an outreach plan that included earned, owned, and paid media. A social media tool kit was developed and aimed at helping member restaurants easily share content using hashtag #RestaurantsAreReady.

Through close collaboration with Marshall Weston Jr., the President, and CEO of the Restaurants Association of Maryland, Maroon PR positioned him to speak on behalf of Restaurant owners to share what their experiences have been like during the pandemic.

The campaign garnered 49.2 million earned, owned and paid impressions through the Baltimore, D.C., and Eastern Shore regions. Through this coverage, the message that Restaurants are prepared to re-open safely with the proper protocols starting with outdoor seating, and phasing into 50% capacity of indoor seating while exercising extensive cleaning procedures.

Maroon PR continues to work alongside RAM in an effort to help advocate for the restaurant and foodservice industry as Maryland continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sample media coverage:

WBAL-TV – Restauranteurs happy to reopen for indoor dining

WTOP Radio – Pressure grows for Md. to open restaurants

WTTG-TV – Restaurant Association of Maryland urging Gov Hogan to allow phase 2 of reopening to begin

Baltimore Business Journal – Coronavirus poses new math for Maryland restaurants that bet big before pandemic 

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