Many restaurant patrons stayed loyal to their favorite spots during stay home orders.

Now, with restrictions being lifted, chefs and restaurant owners hope they can count on them again.

But, some patrons might be hesitant to venture out, even though their states are allowing dining rooms and patios to welcome patrons once more.

Here are five things you can do right now to help restaurants, based on conversations with a variety of owners and chefs.

1) Come in and eat. In many parts of the country, restaurants are limited to the number of people they can seat, usually 25 to 50 percent of their pre-COVID capacity.

Those limits could make some patrons think there won’t be a spot for them and deter them from showing up.

But as long as they feel comfortable dining out, customers need to book tables anyway, food professionals say.

Every one of those seats needs to be full to generate the revenue they need to keep going.

“The big thing for us is cash flow,” says Michael Gulotta, chef and owner of two New Orleans restaurants, Mopho and Maypop. He’s been serving carryout from Mopho and hopes to re-open its dining room on Friday.

Call the restaurant, use a restaurant reservations app or the restaurant’s own reservation service. Even if you don’t want to risk going out now, book a table a few weeks in advance.

Be prepared for places — and servers — to look different than they did the last time you were in.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., has a long list of what to expect from the restaurant and how it hopes patrons will cooperate. It might be a jolt to see mask-wearing servers, but the more often you can go, the faster you’ll adjust.

2) Don’t spend gift cards just yet. During shut down, many restaurants appealed to customers to purchase gift cards so they could get some cash flow.

Naturally, if you’ve put $50 or $100 on a card, you’d like to exchange it for food. But it will help restaurants out if you can hold off a few weeks.

Of course, some patrons might say, “I don’t know if they’ll be there weeks or months from now. I want something for my money.”

And, that’s your perfect right, since there are no certainties about how the restaurant business is going to fare.

But, if you can wait until you see that your spot is bustling once more, you’ll be extending your helpful hand once more (virtually, of course).

3) Purchase some merchandise. Many restaurants sell t-shirts, caps, aprons and other souvenirs. These serve a couple of purposes.

First, the restaurants make money on them. Second, they’re useful marketing devices. They remind people that they exist, and even those that aren’t welcoming sitdown customers yet can keep their names in the conversation.

Some places, like Galit in Chicago, are listing their merchandise right on their carry out menus, making it easy to make a purchase. Galit is even selling cookware to help its employee relief fund.

Let’s face it, you probably need a new t-shirt or hat, now that you’ve been wearing the same clothes in rotation for the past few months. Everybody wins.

4) Post on social media. It’s now common place for food lovers to take photos of all the dishes that come to the table. And while some guests find the picture-taking a little obnoxious, restaurants actually appreciate it.

A social media post serves the same purpose as a t-shirt: it gets the word out that the restaurant is open, and promotes what’s on the menu. “Social media is very powerful,” says Gulotta.

Be sure to tag your favorite place so they can re-post it on their social media accounts. You’re likely to get a grateful thank you if you do.

5) Tip generously. Restaurant staff have had it tough during the past few months. Millions have been on unemployment.

Those who were working delivery and carry out lines have had long days, usually without the kind of tips they would earn for table service.

Be sure to tip as much as you can. And if you’re in the mood, see if your restaurant will accept a separate tip for the cooks and the kitchen staff.

They sometimes get a cut from the servers, but not all restaurants observe that practice, since wage scales are different. Still, anybody working in restaurants can use any gratuity you can provide.

With restaurants closing and others contracting, this is a time when customers have to spring into action to make sure their favorites make it.

If you can afford to take one of these steps, your favorite place will remember you for it long after the COVID emergency is over.