Throughout the pandemic, restaurant gift cards have taken on extra significance – in good ways and bad. Early on, gift card purchases were perceived as a means for the public to keep their favorite restaurants afloat when the businesses couldn’t open their dining rooms or, in some cases, operate at all. Regional and industry efforts to sell gift cards endeavored to support the restaurant industry too. Yet when dining rooms began to reopen, some reports advised consumers against redeeming their gift cards – at least at the beginning while operators were still getting their footing. Even now, while restaurants may be serving a steadier stream of customers, the times don’t exactly feel normal. A recent report from Eater entitled “Am I a Jerk if I Cash in My Restaurant Gift Cards?” fielded a question from a reader who was feeling guilty about redeeming stored cards. So where do you stand on them? First, it may help to understand gift cards’ potential: A recent study from First Data found that 74 percent of consumers said when they redeem a gift card, they typically spend about $54 over the face value of the card – and 34 percent said having gift cards encouraged them to visit businesses they normally wouldn’t. With that in mind and with the potential for gift card purchases to increase over the coming holidays, it may help to adapt your strategy – both in how you market the cards and account for them. Assess how gift cards have worked for you in the past. Is there opportunity for you to partner with complementary businesses on shared gift cards? If you genuinely want your guests to use their gift cards now, tell them (in person, on social media, in your email newsletter and on your website) that you welcome them – and perhaps take the opportunity to ask them to remember to compensate their server well with their gratuity. Depending on how well funded your business is at the moment, you may also want to adjust to how you treat gift card sales. The Eater report mentions that Wayfare Tavern considers gift card purchases as deposits on future sales – and they don’t process the actual sale until the card is redeemed.