A hashtag on Twitter this morning caught my attention. I saw #eatdowntipup in a few tweets, so I checked it out. The website Eat Up. Tip Down explains the idea: if you’re in Manhattan, dine out in lower Manhattan now that the power is on in many of the areas to help the restaurants that lost a week of business and sustained other financial losses. And, while you’re there, tip your server double.


I love this idea, and I think that those in all areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, not just those in Manhattan, can embrace it. In New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, there are restaurants that are beginning to open their doors again. Losing a week’s worth of revenue can be deadly to a restaurant, especially an independent one. But, it’s not just revenue that many restaurants lost. Some of them sustained damage to their buildings that will cost money to repair. Without power, the restaurants most likely lost all their perishable food and beverage inventory. Everyone who works at the restaurants lost wages.


That’s where the "tip up" part comes in. The servers who went for a week without working went for a week with no income. If you have the means to do so, an extra generous tip for the wait staff and the bartenders at a restaurant that was affected by Sandy would be a big help to those trying to get back on their feet.


Those of us in the regions that have been affected by Sandy are being asked to help out in so many ways. We’re being asked to bring donations to drop-off points. We’re being asked to restock the shelves of food pantries. We’re being asked to volunteer time. We’re being asked, along with the entire country, to donate money to agencies like the Red Cross.


I understand that it may feel like our resources are getting stretched thin, and I can imagine that there are some who might say it would be better to skip eating out altogether and donate the money you would have spent. But, restaurants are local business that employee local people and need the assistance of their communities to help recover from their losses. It can be helpful to eat out during this time.


If you’re able to, eat at a restaurant this week that was affected by Sandy. It could be a local pizza place or it could be fine dining restaurant. Be generous to your server who probably lost several days' pay if you have the means. I think it’s as helpful as donating canned goods to your local food pantry (and if you can do both, that’s even better).


Related story on MNN: Stars come up to play Hurricane Sandy benefit


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

'Eat Down. Tip Up' at restaurants in NYC and beyond
As the power returns to lower Manhattan and other areas along the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy, diners are being encouraged to bolster their local restauran