An Instagram co-founder is using gift cards to save Bay Area restaurants

SaveOurFaves hopes to help businesses hit by the coronavirus as they await federal aid.

African young man in glasses shopping online with credit card using smart phone at home. Indoor.

Former Instagram CTO and co-founder Mike Krieger and his wife Kaitlyn have built a service called Restaurants and cafes in San Francisco, East Bay, South Bay, and Marin can add themselves to the service's database, which in turn enables them to sell gift cards for their establishments. With the region — and now the State of California — under a “shelter in place” mandate, the website makes it easier for patrons to support their favorite eateries without leaving their homes, and increases the odds the places they support will still be around when the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

How does it work? — Though takeout and delivery options are still available from many restaurants, some have nonetheless had to cut back their staff, and others — like fine-dining — may not offer takeout options. Gift cards can help, by keeping places afloat with defered orders. If a restaurant doesn’t have a gift certificate/card system set up yet, they are encouraged to look into creating one via their point of sale (POS) system. These services generally already have the infrastructure to easily tie gift cards to the business. Individuals or the business owners themselves can submit outlets to the database so patrons can search for them.

What about people outside of San Francisco? — Other similar databases have popped up all over the U.S. in the past week. Help Main Street is based in New York City but has listings across the country. National directory Rally for Restaurants is powered by popular POS Toast, and also links directly to businesses’ websites. If you’re still looking for your favorite restaurant, Support Local also offers a national database for small businesses in general. Plus, all of these services allow you to add a business.

If you’re a bit more tech-savvy and want to create something similar in your neck of the woods, Krieger released the code he and his wife used for SaveOurFaves on Friday: