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Community Relations

Profile of a 2014 RNA Winner

Profile of a 2014 RNA Winner

Meet Panda Restaurant Group, the 2014 winner of the Large Business Restaurant Neighbor Award.

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State Winners

Cornerstones of Their Communities

The 2014 national recipients of the Restaurant Neighbor awards were selected from 129 engaged, charitable state winners.


Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 



Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 



Lakeside, California
Located in the San Diego, CA-community Eastbound Grill has a reputation for being in the “rough around the edges,” part of town. Over the past four years, Eastbound, which employs about 40 people, has been putting a spotlight on all the positives in the community in an effort to draw more outside business. “Since Eastbound’s arrival we have raised more than $60,000 for local charities and organizations,” says owner, Jason Nichols. “Every Monday from 4 p.m. to closing we donate 10% of our gross sales directly back to the community,” he says. “We take pride in our community and enjoy giving back and watching the positive results from it.”
Irvine, California
The Habit Burger Grill makes a habit out of more than serving hamburgers. As part of its commitment to the community, the 80-unit chain, believes in “doing our part,” to support the neighborhoods it serves. “Our approach is focused on the people and families that live in these communities,” says Mike Mirkil, vice president of marketing. “We make a difference all year long, in each and every city we are located and work with a wide variety of worthy causes that help benefit people locally.” Overall the company, which employs more than 2,400 staffers, raised more than $100,000 last year alone and supported such causes as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Boys & Girls Club of America, YMCA, Share Our Strength, the National Restaurant Association’s ProStart, California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, as well as the American Red Cross. 
Emeryville, California
In an effort to promote healthier living, Jamba Juice gives back through a partnership with the American Heart Association. The company relies on a variety of measures including 81 San Francisco company units donating $1 for every oatmeal sold. Stores also sell coupons worth $10 of savings for a donation of $1, and employees in headquarters organize a bake sale and silent auction. In total, Jamba Juice, which has 5,000 employees and 829 units, raised more than $74,000. “We included facts about stroke and heart disease on our campaign materials to bring awareness to simple ways to lead a healthier lifestyle and the impact their donation to the AHA has in the community,” says Rachel Kirk, associate manager. Jamba’s chief executive, James D. White, also chaired the Heart of Gold Ball, challenging local companies to raise funds for the AHA. His call to action raised more than $900,000. Plans call for an expansion of the program in 2014. “We will expand our in-store fundraising throughout the entire state of California, engaging all our company stores and encouraging local franchisees to participate in the fundraiser as well,” says Kirk.
Van Nuys, California
At Maria’s Italian Kitchen service to others is a way of life. Under the direction of owner Madelyn Alfano, the entire staff of the company’s nine restaurants play a part of the outreach. Aside from a strong commitment to the business community, Alfano supports such organizations as the FD Foundation, which is committed to research and treatment for victims of familial dysautonomia; Shane’s Inspiration, an organization dedicated to creating accessible playgrounds at public parks for children with disabilities; and the Max Reitzin Memorial Fund, which was established in memory of Alfano’s late son to benefit handicapped children.
Carmel, California
For the last 24 years Rio Grill has been sponsoring its Resolution Run, raising more than $500,000 in the process. Using the proceeds for a variety of causes over the years, the restaurant now earmarks funds for the Natividad Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “The money raised supports the programs and services provided by the hospital including those that support the parents of these preemies,” says Julie Ann Lozano, marketing coordinator. The run, which takes place annually on New Year’s Day, features more than 1,400 participants. “Rio Grill’s Resolution has become a community event for runners, walkers, families with strollers and folks who bring their dogs,” says Lozano. The 2015 run will be a celebration to mark 25 years of the event. “Plans are already in the works as to what we can do to celebrate this milestone.”


Denver, Colorado
Carmine’s on Penn supports a variety of causes that are mainstays in the Denver area. The Delores Project, which is a woman’s homeless shelter, is one such organization. Last year Carmine’s held its fourth dinner to support the cause, raising $8,511 and bringing its total to more than $25,000. Platte Forum, which supports troubled youth through art, is another operation on Carmine’s list of worthy causes. “We sponsored the Platte Forum “Ungala” event in the spring by donating $5,000 in catering,” says Brad Ritter, managing partner. The event also features original art for sale, which adds to the amount raised. Additionally, Carmine’s is a Gold Sponsor of BizBash, which benefits local children’s’ charities, as well as the Washington Park Montessori School, raising $3,100 for the neighborhood early childhood school. All told Carmine’s on Penn and its 34 employees helped its community by raising $30,000. 




Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 


District of Columbia

Washington, D.C.

Ris Lacoste, owner of Ris in Washington, DC, has fostered a culture of community involvement within her restaurant, which employs 70 people. “The team supports charities that mean something to the staff and their customers,” says Anthony Hesselius, public relations representative. “They regularly pack boxes at the food bank and DC Central Kitchen, and the staff came together to support the leukemia walk after a colleague fell ill.” Raising about $60,000 annually, RIS supports such organizations as The Human Rights Campaign, Girl Scouts, American Heart Association, George Washington University Heart Center, National Cherry Blossom Festival, DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Washington DC Jesuit Academy, Beth El Preschool and host of others. Lacoste, who makes every year, “The Year of Giving,” is highly regarded by staff and colleagues for her charitable bent. “Ris Lacoste is a shining example of a chef that uses her talent and resources for the good of everyone she touches,” says Hesselius.


Orlando, Florida

Honored with the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at this year’s March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction, Boston Lobster Feast is well known in the Orlando community for its charitable bent. Corporate executive chef, Keith R. Esbin spearheads many events, such as Taste of the Nation Orlando and Greyt Plates, which supports the Greyhound Pets of America Greater Orlando Chapter. All funds raised through a culinary tasting go directly to the housing, feeding, and medical care of more than 50 retired racing greyhounds.
The Fathers Table - Michael Gilardi (Owner, Founder)
Sanford, Florida
Following the sale of his pizza business in 2000, Michael Gilardi founded The Fathers Table Foundation in an effort to support underprivileged women and children in the United States and abroad. As a way to launch the foundation Gilardi founded The Fathers Table, LLC, a cheesecake manufacturer serving the foodservice, retail, and K-12 school segments, donating 25% of net proceeds. In 2012 the percentage was upped to 50% of net proceeds. “Each year The Fathers Table donates millions directly to The Fathers Table Foundation, which in turn supports charities including Habitat For Humanity, Family First, American Red Cross and the Special Olympics,” says Eric Pasquale, national accounts manager for The Fathers Table. “Mike takes no income from the company himself and is a special person,” adds Pasquale.
Sarasota, Florida
For decades Michael Quillen has been nurturing relationships within the Sarasota community, especially when it comes to charities and nonprofits that fulfill the basic needs of those who go without. One of the causes that Gecko’s continues to partner with is the Sarasota Seminole Club, which offers scholarships based on academics, volunteering and extracurricular activities. “It is with the generosity and commitment of local business leaders like Gecko’s that allows the Sarasota Seminole Club to partner with deserving students to help them achieve their educational goals at Florida State University,” says Frank Maggio, president of the Sarasota Seminole Club. Additionally Quillen partners with dozens of Sarasota and Manatee County schools by donating Super Student Award Cards, where elementary students receive a free meal as incentive for exemplary scholastic achievement, school attendance and good citizenship.
Tampa, Florida
With 15 restaurants in its portfolio, Little Greek Restaurant supports myriad nonprofits including schools, local chambers, local charities, festivals, and community events. “Our restaurants host ‘spirit nights’ for charities in the area and a portion of proceeds are given to the charity,” says Jennifer Bujalski. One of the restaurants in South Tampa works with the Strivin’ for Stephen initiative, which helps autistic children. “One of our corporate values is to give back, and we never say no,” says Bujalski. Other groups, which Little Greek Restaurant and its 150 employees help to fund, are Healing for Heroes, Metropolitan Ministries and Voices for Children. In total the restaurant group donates about 50,000 meals annually. “As we grow and become a larger company we will be able to give more than we do now,” says Bujalski. “We are very passionate about our restaurants and giving back to the community, and so are all of our employees.” 
Maitland, Florida
Tijuana Flats has been giving back since 1995, when it was nothing but a lone burrito stand. As the company grew, so did its charitable giving. “In 2007, we created the ‘Just in Queso Foundation,’ a 501 C 3, nonprofit foundation, ‘Just in Case,” there is a need,” says a company spokesman. Since 2007 the 97-unit fast casual chain has logged more than 5,270 hours, raising close to $2,100,000 for the communities it serves, which are primarily in the Southeast. A portion of the giving comes from staff payroll deductions and another large chunk comes from sales of the chain’s signature sauce, “Just in Queso Sauce.” Sold year round both online and in-store, the chain donates more than $3 for each bottle sold. One organization that benefits is Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has been a seven-year partnership. Additionally the company created a military job initiative to help service men and women get acclimated back into the workforce. ‘Chester’s Working Warrior’s Fellowship program,’ named after our former beloved owner, is a 26-week program which allows veterans to work in our support center or restaurants.”


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Unsukay Concepts

Atlanta, Georgia
Late in 2012 Unsukay Concepts, parent to Mass & Turner’s, Common Quarter and Local Three restaurants, began a fundraising drive to help alleviate the financial worries of Ryan Hidinger, who at 35 was diagnosed with stage IV gallbladder cancer. Hidinger, who has been chef at Bacchanalia, Floataway Café and Mass & Turner’s for eight years, was nicknamed Hidi as a child so the company created a foundation called Team Hidi. In short order the committee found volunteers, organized a fundraiser, created a website and logo, solicited the help of every chef in town, ordered T-shirts and wrist bands, and sold out 500 tickets at $150 each. As a result of the inspiration and outpouring of love for Hidinger, The Giving Kitchen was established to help others. It is expected that The Giving Kitchen, once fully funded and promoted within the industry will support hundreds of people each year. “A handful of grants have already been made in 2013, and dozens more will be made in 2014,” says Ryan Tucker, chief executive.

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Da Kitchen Cafe

Kahului, Hawaii
Da Kitchen Café partners with Hawaii and Maui food banks to highlight awareness for the “Hunger Ain’t a Game,” cause. Through the sales of shirts, tanks and hats the company raises money for those who need it most. The two-unit concept employs about 45 people who join in by wearing the shirt and hats each Friday to help promote the cause in-store. “Since starting this campaign in June 2012 we have sold more than 500 retail items, raising about $12,500 and feeding more than 3,000 people through our cause,” says Mariah Brown, manager. “Sales of the retail items are sold from our two locations and customers are asked to take photos in their shirts and post them on Twitter and Facebook.” Moving forward plans are already underway to design a new shirt for next year.

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Chicago, Illinois
Over the past three years, two-unit BJ’s Market & Bakery has served more than 6,500 hot meals to residents of two communities in its trading area as part of Operation Hope, a community outreach, feeding event by St. Sabina church.  “The staff is very involved,” says John Meyer, president. “As one can imagine, this is a huge undertaking. The staff plans, preps, cooks and serves all the meals. We start planning 30 days before the event. Cooking space is very limited, so it is important that duties and positions as well as timing are planned leading up to the event.” The event is a collaborative effort by St. Sabina, BJ’s Market, Johnson Publishing Company, WVON-AM/1690, Rush University Medical Center and Terry Peterson.
Chicago, Illinois
In 2013, Gale Street Inn celebrated an important milestone: its 50th anniversary. Owner George Karzas wanted to mark the event by giving back to the community that had supported the restaurant for five decades. “Gale Street polled customers to learn what causes were important to them,” says Jeff Forkenbrock of the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays but George decided to open on select Tuesdays to hold fundraisers. One hundred percent of the proceeds from those events go to the nonprofits, and the Gale Street Inn donates the dinners, drinks and staff for the events.” Among the causes earmarked for proceeds were Misericordia Chicago, which supports people with developmental disabilities, Special Olympics, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Susan G. Komen Chicagoland, Gateway Green, which enhances expressways and neighborhoods, and Gift Theatre. In addition, the restaurant created special anniversary ale, with 50 cents of every pour going to ‘Ignite the Spirit, Chicago Firefighters Fund.’  In all the events raised around $100,000.
Schaumburg, Illinois
Riccardo’s Restaurante, a fine-dining establishment in Schaumburg, IL, supports a variety of nonprofit organizations, exhibiting deep roots in the community. High on its list of priorities, Riccardo’s donates over $5,000 in food to Schaumburg School D54 for special events to raise money for teacher grants and scholarships for low-income students. Riccardo’s also supports D211 High School by establishing and funding three $500 scholarships for a student who shows improvement, is Latino and has special needs. Other worthy causes on Riccardo’s radar include Autism Awareness, Special Olympics, American Cancer Society, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, local veterans and local churches. “The entire staff understands the restaurant’s commitment to the community,” says Dominice LaPorte Einig, a company spokesman. “They are dedicated to preparing the meals that are donated, and often make voluntary donations themselves.”
Chicago, Illinois
With several restaurants in the Chicago area, Roti Mediterranean Grill is very involved in the communities it serves. Aside from providing food for two Light the Night walks, which support the fight against leukemia and lymphoma, Roti also partners with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help fund breast cancer treatment and research. The 18-unit chain also teams up with City Harvest in New York, an organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, as well as Common Threads. Chef Frederik Jensen hosts classes for children through the Small Threads program, which teaches young, low-income children cooking skills to help prevent childhood obesity. This program dovetails perfectly with the chain’s theme — ‘Food that loves you back.’


Eddie Merlot’s Prime Aged Beef and Seafood

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Since 2012 Eddie Merlot’s has partnered with nonprofit, Veggie U, which helps educate elementary and special needs students through its Earth to Table program by donating vegetable growing kits to local classrooms. “Through these growing kits they foster a synergy between educational, nutritional, and agricultural education to combat the rising epidemic of childhood obesity,” says Jenny Boyd, platinum club coordinator. Eddie Merlot’s, which has about 750 employees, dedicates two months, July and August, to raise funds through the sale of cookbooks, platinum club memberships, Joel Gott wine, and specific featured menu items. Additionally, culinary demonstrations were held using vegetables from The Chef Garden at The Culinary Vegetable Institute. To date the program has delivered more than 4,700 kits across the country and the restaurant has raised more than $21,750. “Also, Eddie Merlot’s held a dinner at The Chef’s Garden with all nine executive chefs and raised an additional $18,600 in July of 2013,” says Boyd.


Chrystal Tamillo - Fleming’s Steakhouse
West Des Moines, Iowa

As president of Morsel Combat, a culinary event to fight hunger, Chrystal Tamillo is all in for the cause — raising $75,000 annually. “The purpose of the event is twofold — to show that great cuisine can be healthy and to raise money for a local organization dealing with food insecurity called Meals from the Heartland,” says Jessica Dunker, a Fleming’s Steakhouse spokeswoman. Tamillo has also worked through her restaurant to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and as a result achieved Premier Platinum Provider status. For the last four years Tamillo has coordinated a Breast Cancer Survivor luncheon at Flemings for more than 300 survivors. Additionally she coordinates the Best Buddies culinary competition, which brings mentally disabled children into the kitchen with local chefs. Tamillo, who is a graduate of the West Des Moines Leadership Academy, also hosts an annual  luncheon for the program.

Ron Hall - Executive Chef/Mercy Hospital
Washington, Iowa
For more than 20 years Ron Hall has been working to end childhood hunger in his community. More than 15 years ago he organized the first annual Thanksgiving in July Food Drive for the local food bank, an event that is stronger than ever. “It now benefits food pantries in five different communities,” says Hall. “Since first established the food drive has raised more than 222 tons of food.” Hall was also a founding member for a local fresh food rescue program called Table to Table. “Since 1996 Table to Table volunteers have rescued and distributed more than 11 million pounds of food to local agencies.” Hall has also helped to raise more than $20,000 in support of the March of Dimes.



Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 

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New Orleans, Louisiana
The Acme Oyster House and its president, John Horne, are ubiquitous at charitable events in and around the Louisiana and Florida locations of the restaurant group’s six locations. “We donate on average 150 to 300 meals monthly in the form of donated gift certificates for a majority of the charitable events that are going on around Manatee and Sarasota Counties, whether it is a local VFW fundraising event or a spaghetti dinner at one of the mobile home communities we donate to,” says a company spokesman. Horne, who serves on a plethora of boards,  “truly does walk the walk, when it comes to education and the hospitality industry, however, our main focus for our fundraising efforts has been to raise much needed funds for local children’s educational charities.” Some of the events that complement that mission are a golf tournament, and a “Shoeless Shindig,” which helps support local children’s charities. The Acme staff, who are active participants in the charitable endeavors, work with such groups as United Way, N.O. Aids Task Force, Juvenile Diabetes, American Cancer Society, Cancer Crusaders, Boys Hope/Girls Hope, Café Reconcile, Café Hope, Bridge House, Kingsley House, New Orleans Police Justice Foundation, Crime Stoppers, the New Orleans Oyster Festival, University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism, Delgado University and CASA.
New Orleans, Louisiana
At the two locations of The Crazy Lobster Bar & Grill, every employee gets involved with the restaurants’ Toys for Tots drive. “Every single employee (138 employees) donated a toy,” says Anna Tusa, director of operations. “That speaks volumes for my employees.” Additionally the company also donates one of its facilities and supplies food and labor for an event to support a local drug rehab center. “We have hired numerous employees from Odysey House, Bridge House and other facilities to try and help someone get a fresh start at a productive life.” Tusa also says many staff members frequently mentor young people from shelters or court ordered programs.
Harahan, Louisiana
Since Phil’s Grill launch the restaurant has been partnering with The Miracle League of Greater New Orleans, a baseball league for kids and young adults with physical and mental disabilities. “In spring of 2008 I started Burgerpalooza, a month long celebration of National Burger Month and the vehicle for our PHIL-anthropy,” says Phil de Gruy, owner and ‘top bun.’ In 2013 the company, which has two restaurants and 25 employees, donated proceeds from the sale of a specially created, Burgerpalooza burger, as well as a Burgerpalooza Bash & Auction. “This was our most successful year yet with a total donation over $15,000 and a six year total over $60,000.” Additionally Phil’s Grill supports the Louisiana Special Olympics and ALS Association.


Westbrook, Maine
The dining services at IDEXX Laboratories offer about 1,800 employees exposure to local food related businesses, who in turn benefit from raising awareness. The company, which supports Good Sheppard Food Bank (which provides assistance to thousands of Maine residents), hosts a Food Fair at the world campus to support food related businesses and the food bank, The 2013 Food Fair hosted 24 local food & beverage establishments, including restaurants, bakeries, cooking schools and specialty food companies, who served samples of their menu to IDEXX employees. To participate, vendors were asked to make a donation to The Good Sheppard Food Bank, and IDEXX matched the donation. In total the equivalent of 9,000 meals were donated.


CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.

Mount Airy, Maryland
CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co. is steeped in the local community, and has been since first opening its doors seven years ago. With its 46 employees putting in countless volunteer hours, the fine-dining restaurant has several groups it supports. “We are the organizers of a local, nationally sanctioned BBQ Contest and Festival, which recently had its third annual event in June,” says Christopher Carter, owner. Since its inception the event has raised more than $70,000 benefiting the American Cancer Society’s local chapter, Mental Health Association, Boy Scouts of America, a local private school, and the volunteer fire company. Additionally through the local food pantry, Mt. Airy Net, the restaurant adopts families in need of food. An outpouring of support from staff and customers allow the restaurant to adopt ten families.

Annapolis, Maryland
The Irish Restaurant Company, which operates from eight core principles, doesn’t take long before it gets around to the business of giving back. Core Principle #3: “I make a difference; to the lives of my guests, IRC colleagues, suppliers, and my planet. I am always looking for a way to better the lives of the people around me.” To that end, the three-unit restaurant company supports a number of worthy causes including Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Londontowne Symphony Orchestra, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Annapolis Chamber Players, the Fireman’s Association, and Youth Suicide Awareness Action Team. One of the events the restaurants hold regularly is a Fundraiser Dinner Program on selected nights where $10 from each special meal goes directly to a charity. The company also gives regular food donations to the Lighthouse Homeless Shelter and has instituted a matching grant program for employee charitable contributions. Since 2003 the company, which has about 350 employees, has donated more than $100,000.
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Glory Days Grill gets into the swing of charitable giving through its outreach program benefiting community sports teams. The 20-unit chain, which employs more than 1,500, helps more than 400 local teams by funding fees, uniforms, and registration costs. The Team Sponsorship program has been in place for since 1996. “We are very proud of our involvement in the local communities,” says Maribeth Harper, marketing manager. “Glory Days Grill anticipates the team sponsorship program event will grow even bigger and better in the coming years.” In 2013 the chain donated more than $31,000 worth of meals as well as more than $294,000 to a host of worth causes, most notably its Team Sponsorship program. “All of our staff is very involved with the local community programs. They are extremely energized when the teams come into the restaurants for team parties after a victory,” says Harper. “Whether it’s a win or a loss, the staff and managers treat each team like winners.”
Lanham, Maryland
Frank Coombs, who is president of J’Ollies Restaurant, is also president of the HOPE Foundation, which is a nonprofit that helps families with food, clothing and back to school supplies. Known as a person who gives back to those in need, Coombs also created a job at his restaurant for a person that is mentally challenged. “Mr. Coombs also received the community service award from the Maryland State Education Association for his involvement in the community,” says a company spokesperson. He also speaks frequently at schools and mentors men at the DC National Guard Youth Challenge Program. Additionally the restaurant serves reduced-priced meals at Mt. Calvary Catholic School on a daily basis, and participates in helping the homeless through the school as well. 
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Boston, Massachusetts
For more than 20 years, Lucia Ristorante has been holding an annual “Taste of the North End,” to benefit Casa Monte Cassino, a nonprofit organization, which provides a home-away-from-home for hospitalized children and their families free of charge.
“The first event had 100 guests and 10 restaurants,” says owner Donato Frattaroli. “It has grown over the years and now has more than 1,100 guests and 50 vendors with proceeds going to the Casa Monte Cassino, as well as other children’s organizations, schools and the elderly of the North End.” Additionally the company, which has two restaurants and 65 employees, supports North End Against Drugs, North End Athletic Association, North End Arts and Music Association, and Action for Boston Community Development, which serves more than 85,000 low-income area residents.
Woburn, Massachusetts
Since 2006 Ninety Nine Restaurants has been actively involved with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which is located in Boston, MA. “It started as a grass roots effort from one team member running a road race and raising $3,000 in memory of a colleague/friend/mentor,” says Jason Goodrow, director of marketing. “It grew into a chain-wide effort to raise funds to beat cancer.” With 105 restaurants and more than 3,500 employees, Ninety Nine Restaurants, has plenty of staff members participating. Raising more than $640,000 to date through the annual Falmouth Road Race and the Pan-Mass Challenge bike race has been a source of pride for the company. “Team members at all levels are involved from servers and hourly workers running or riding, to the president of the company running the Falmouth Road Race the past five years,” says Goodrow.
Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Each year, Oak Hill Country Club hosts a special golf tournament, ‘Tee It Up For The Troops.’ The event was established following requests from family and friends of soldiers s


Buddy’s Pizza

Farmington Hills, Michigan
Since 2010 Buddy’s Pizza has donated $10,000 to Karmanos Breast Cancer Research. Almost a third of the money came from staff donations. Retailer Leon & Lulu partners with Buddy’s, donating pizzas and contributing $1 for every pie sold. “Staff donated $5 each Friday to wear jeans instead of their normal uniform pants, and they purchased special PINK shirts Buddy’s Pizza had made to bring awareness to this cause,” says Robert Jacobs, owner and president. In previous years Buddy’s Pizza joined forces with the Alliance for the Great Lakes in an effort to conserve and restore the five Great Lakes through education, policy and citizen involvement. The company, which has about 600 employees and 10 restaurants, donated $1 to The Alliance for the Great Lakes for each pizza sold in a seven-month period. The rollout generated $6,000. 
Serving in the U.S. Army. “’Tee It Up For The Troops,’ was created to honor and recognize the needs of all veterans who have served this nation,’” says Francisco Ventura, club manager. All proceeds from the tourney are collected along with jacket sales. In addition, raffle prizes are sold throughout the event. “When I started this tournament, I did not anticipate the amount of support it would receive from membership. Now, it is one of the most supported tournaments we host,” says Ventura. “We invite veterans from the armed services to speak at the event. Having the opportunity to hear first-hand how our support helps them is just priceless.”


Great Waters Brewing Company
St. Paul, Minnesota

Successful restaurants are about more than serving delicious food and providing good service. In addition to quality meals and service, The Great Waters Brewing Company is known as being the restaurant with “people who really care”. Part of the Great Waters Brewering Company’s mission is to be involved in the community and they do so by partnering up with various charitable organizations such as eatiply, a meal donation service. The partnership with eatiply originated “…because we always want to be involved in community giving,” said Sean O’Byrne, owner of Great Waters Brewing Company. The restaurant is eatyiply’s biggest donater with nearly 50,000 meals having been donated since the start of the year. In addition to their work with eatiply, Great Waters Brewing Company has a hand in many other charitable oraganizations and events, including Kids Against, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, discounts for marathon runners, promoting local artists, Dining Out For Life, and food drives for Second Harvest Heartland.

Morrissey Hospitality Companies, Inc.
St. Paul, Minnesota

Morrissey Hospitality Companies views its communities and employees as a family. As a family, it works to support its 1,200 employees and the community in which they work. Bill Morrissey, Morrissey Hospitality Companies’ President and founder and his late wife, Mary Jo, have always had a fondness for helping disadvantaged children and single-parent households with children. This led to the company’s involvement with The Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities. Community involvement with The Boys & Girls Club is a year-round priority for the Morrissey Hospitality Companies staff. During the holidays, the culinary teams prepare and donate turkey and festive dinners to the kids and parents of various clubs. Throughout the school year, staff can be found coaching sports teams or volunteering to read and be mentors to the Boys & Girls Clubs’ participants. Events are also held to raise funds for the clubs, including “Tie 1 On For Father’s Day” where ties from celebrities and sports figures are auctioned off at various Morrissey Hospitality Companies restaurants. The most celebrated event is the Annual Golf Tournament, which, in its 11 years, has donated all the proceeds (more than half a million dollars) to the Boys & Girls Clubs.    

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Fat Mama’s Tamales
Natchez, Mississippi

Fat Mama’s Tamales has created a group, which is comprised of local customers and friends, who work multiple events each year to improve the community. Called Krewe of Fat Mama’s, the organization is comprised of about 40 members. “Since 2009, the Krewe of Fat Mama’s has raised more than $75,000 for local organizations and charities,” says David Gammill II, president. “In 2013, the Krewe has participated in multiple local organized Mardi Gras Parades, helped raise funds for an employee who is receiving cancer treatments, raised more than $4,100 for the Natchez Adams Search & Rescue, participated in our local United Way fundraising efforts and are currently working to crowdfund a free standing art project to bring 25 full sized donkey sculptures to our town.”

Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group - Jeff Good (President)
Jackson, Mississippi

Jeff Good has a resume filled with entries that illustrate his active involvement in the Jackson community, as well as the state of Mississippi. His activities span business, charitable organizations, civic boards as well as the restaurant and hospitality industry. Good currently serves as one of nine members of the Capital City Convention Center Commission and on the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Board of Directors. An advocate of promoting Jackson as a tourist spot, Good has been awarded the ‘Friend of Tourism’ award three times by the Jackson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and was also honored by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association as Restaurateur of the Year in 1998. Good has served multiple stints on the Fondren Renaissance Foundation board where he was instrumental in organizing retail businesses into a formal merchants association. He was co-creator of the Zippity Doo Dah Parade, which raised $160,000 for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in its inaugural year, and also co-chairman of the Leadership Committee for the capital fundraising campaign for the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Good, who is past president of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, is also the founding charter president of the Jackson Police Foundation.

Jackson, Mississippi
Three days of music, food, ice cream eating contests, car raffle, children’s carnival, celebrity dunking booth, and an evening parade are just part of the merriment at the Zippity Doo Dah Parade Festival Weekend.  Working with the New York Times best-selling author and humorist, Jill Conner Browne, and the Sweet Potato Queens, Sal & Mookie’s helps put together this widely popular event, which raised $160,000 in the first three years. The festival, which has been nominated as a “Best of Jackson,” event, draws between 15,000 and 20,000 people, all for the benefit of the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. “Each year we have grown the event,” says Jeff Good, president. “What started as a simple street carnival, grew to add the Sweet Potato Queen parade, the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, and the Jackson State University Sonic Boom show band.” 


Cook’s Kettle

Springfield, Missouri
The chefs and students of Victory Trade School, who operate Cook’s Kettle Restaurant, are heavily invested in the Springfield community. “It is a neighborhood restaurant in a revitalized historical district in North Springfield, MO,” says Victoria Queen, President. “By day the students operate the restaurant as a learning laboratory. Each evening they open the doors to the poor in the neighborhood and serve a free nutritious meal, using the culinary skills they are learning in the school.”  Additionally Cook’s Kettle has used its culinary skills to team up with such local nonprofit groups as Ronald McDonald House, Convoy of Hope, an organization which feeds the needy, and the Greene County Library. “We received a donation of a greenhouse and the land to put it on,” says Queen. “We plan to add a second greenhouse and start a farm-to-table program to teach the students how to grow, cultivate, harvest, prepare and serve nutritious foods.”

Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub

Springfield, Missouri
At Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub it is commonplace to reach into the Springfield, Missouri community and pay it forward. The restaurant invites 6-7 single mothers from Women in Need of the Ozarks and their family to the restaurant for dinner, allowing their guests to order anything on the menu. The restaurant also donates 1% of all gift card sales in December to Rare Breed. “Our biggest contribution is in conjunction with the Victory Mission where we feed the homeless and less fortunate of Springfield,” says James Swafford, managing partner. Some 325 adults and 100 children are treated to prime rib dinners and McDonald’s Happy Meals. The kids also receive winter hats, mittens or gloves, coloring books and crayons. “The staff volunteers for the Feed the Homeless meal. The chef donates his time to cook and carve the rib,” says Swafford. “About 12 to 15 of our staff arrive at the sight around 1:00 in the afternoon to setup the banquet, we serve at 5 p.m. and cleanup is done by 7:30.”


Whitefish, Montana
MacKenzie River Pizza is firmly committed to giving back to the communities that have embraced the company, which has 19 restaurants and sales in excess of $25 million. Through its charitable giving the Montana-based chain has donated more than $116,000, roughly 5% of sales, in the last year. As a result of its MacKenzie River Pizza School Nights program the company has donated more than $11,000 to 118 schools in five states.  Celebrating 20 years in business the company raised $20,000 in 2013, which went to a variety of worthy causes. Additionally the chain supports Special Olympics, a variety of youth programs, Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, Jadyn Fred Foundation, Ryan United, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, American Childhood Cancer Organization, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Chase Hawks Memorial Association, Tumbleweed, Flathead County Health Center, Mariah’s Challenge and Eagle Mount Great Falls.


Lincoln, Nebraska
Partnering with Nebraska Community Blood Bank (NCBB), daVinci’s gave away a coupon for an individual one-topping pizza to every donor who came to a daVinci’s restaurant during July 2013. The company, which has five restaurants and 180 employees, also gave away the same coupon to every student who attended their four-day blood drive on both campuses of the University of Nebraska — Lincoln. “If we are approached in the future to partner with the NCBB, we will most definitively say yes,” says Kelly Knudson, daVinci’s owner. Knudson knows first-hand the lives that are saved thanks to the blood bank, as her twin nephews were born premature at 26 weeks. “Had it not been for the selfless donors, James and Cole would not be the rambunctious, thriving three-year olds they are today.”
Omaha, Nebraska
With its eight restaurants and more than 200 employees, The Egg & I is ubiquitous in and around Omaha, NE.  With each new unit the company uses 100% of the proceeds from its soft opening to support Food Bank For The Heartland. “We provide guests with a complimentary meal and in turn we ask for a voluntary donation for the Food Bank,” says Jonathan Heida, marketing manager. “We also have had our servers donate their tips during the soft opening.” A typical new unit raises about $3,000 for the cause. To date The Egg & I has contributed more than $10,750 and approximately 1,000 pounds of food for the needy. Additionally the small chain participates in Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry campaign. “Through a week long campaign, The Egg & I across Nebraska donated 10 cents from every cup of coffee purchased,” says Heida. “The seven restaurants that were open at the time raised a combined $1,600 to help fight child hunger.”
Omaha, Nebraska
For the last seven years Huhot Mongolian Grill has been actively supporting Completely KIDS, an organization helping to feed hungry children. As part of its work Completely KIDS administers before and after school programs in three homeless shelters. The restaurant’s owner, Gayle Carstens and his wife Jody, are very active in the group and in 2010 helped to found Pinot Pigs & Poets (PPP), an event that features chef and vintner competitions. Proceeds from the fourth annual PPP event exceeded $190,000. Jody Carstens serves on the board of Completely KIDS and Gayle Carstens co-chairs the PPP fundraiser. Additionally the restaurant supports more than 130 nonprofit organizations annually through Helping Hands, a program that donates 10% of sales from charity events held at one of the restaurants.


Sparks, Nevada
For ten years, Peter Rathmann, vice president of BJ’s Barbecue, has gone fishing for a good cause. “Peter has donated his time and equipment to cook 2,000 hot dogs for the last 10 years for kids and families at the Rotary Free Fishing Day,” says a company spokesman. Additionally, the restaurant, which employs 30 people, puts on an annual celebrity golf tournament, ‘Legends of the Game.’ The restaurant donates all food, except chicken, for two days, serving about 300 people. “The proceeds go to different charities in town,” says a company spokesman. Other organizations supported by BJ’s Barbecue include Reno Rodeo Association Kids, which provides scholarships and aid to special needs children, and the American Cancer Society.
Las Vegas, Nevada
For three consecutive years, The Venetian/The Palazzo has been hosting the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair, which supports the educational programs of the Nevada Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation. Additionally the company supports the Keep Memory Alive Foundation, which helps to improve the lives of patients and their families as they navigate the extraordinary challenges of brain disorders. In 2013 the first four-day ‘La Cucina Italiana Food & Wine Festival’ was held at the Venetian, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Keep Memory Alive Foundation. “The food and beverage team creates bigger and better events by coming up with ideas that surpass last year’s event,” says a spokesperson. “These all come along with having supportive partners in the industry, a great and creative team, as well as a successful relationship with the press and media.”

New Hampshire

The Common Man
Ashland, New Hampshire

Since 2007, The Common Man, a regional multi-concept operator of 17 restaurants with more than 900 employees, has been working to help its neighbors who go hungry by partnering with the NH Food Bank. “Last year more than 8.5 million pounds of food were distributed via 400 agencies and an additional 147 mobile food pantries,” says Erica Murphy, director of communications and community relations. The Common Man sought out creative ways to help raise money to support those efforts through its team members or STARS. “For our golf tournament, STARS from all levels — from our CEO and operations team to general managers, kitchen managers, office staff and restaurant staff — all pitch in to organize details of the event,” says Murphy. To date The Common Man has raised more than $156,000 for the food bank through its Charitable Holiday Coupon Book, golf tournament and other fundraisers. “One in nine of our fellow NH residents are food insecure and sadly more than 40,000 are children,” says Murphy.
Gilford, New Hampshire 
Every year Patrick’s Pub & Eatery and its 85 employees, hosts Pub Mania, a 24-hour Barstool Challenge, as part of its participation in the LNH Children’s Auction. The pub reserves bar stools for teams that commit to filling the stool with a different team member each hour of the event. With 30 teams and 24 people per team, the event has 720 “Culinary Athletes” participating, each of whom raises funds. Last year the event brought in more than $177,000 bringing the restaurant’s three-year total to $384,570, which makes it the biggest contributor to the Children’s Auction. “The Children’s Auction is a truly amazing event that brings people to action on behalf of others,” says Patrick’s co-owner, Allan Beetle. Some of the groups which benefit from the Children’s Auction include Lakes Region Daycare, Citizen Santa Fund, Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, Gilford Police Relief Association, Irv Buchman Memorial Children’s Fund and Laconia Police Relief Association.

New Jersey

Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 

New Mexico

Carlsbad, New Mexico
Through its Guest Bartender Night, Trinity Hotel and Restaurant has been able to serve up help for those in its community in greatest need. By donating 100% of the profits from the sale of appetizers and specialty drinks, Trinity has been able to raise more than $12,000 and $1500 for the Oklahoma Tornado Victimes. “Trinity is dedicated to helping charities hit hard by the economic downturn and will continue to do so with Guest Bartender Night,” says Dale Balzano, owner. Some of the groups, which have benefited from Trinity, include Relay for Life Carlsbad, an organization that fights cancer, Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, Carlsbad Battered Families Shelter, as well as victims of the Oklahoma City tornado.

New York

Tonawanda, New York
When Michael Rizzo learned Brighton Library was going to be shuttered he stepped in and organized fundraisers to save it. “Mr. Rizzo and other town residents fought hard to keep it open as a private library (with computers and special programs) for use by the Town of Tonawanda residents,” says Judith Frank, reading specialist in Tonawanda. “The single charitable event for the library has been expanding yearly and going on for approximately 10 years.” Other organizations, which Rizzo supports in his community, include St. Amelia’s Church and school, Mount Saint Mary’s High School, The Boy Scouts, the Franciscan Center, a transitional independent living center for young men, a local dance studio and several other area charities. “He is always helping others and is a well respected, outstanding member of the community,” says Frank.
Greenvale, New York
For the last 20 years Ben’s Kosher Restaurant and Delicatessen company has worked with local soup kitchens in and around its Greenvale, NY-based headquarters. Working with organizations that are affiliated with the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), Ben’s makes it a weekly habit to donate all leftover soups. “We also strive to spread the awareness of the INN’s mission of ‘addressing the issues of homelessness and hunger by providing food, shelter, and long-term housing and supportive services in a dignified and respectful manner for those who seek our help,” says Ronnie Dragoon, chief executive of the six-unit deli chain. Additionally the company holds two fundraisers annually, ‘A Genuine New York Deli Experience, and Day of Thanks and Giving,’ where 100% of the proceeds are directly donated to INN, as well as an annual barbeque for the employees and volunteers of INN. Throughout the year more than 450 meals are donated, and more than $20,000 is raised.
Rochester, New York
Over the course of more than three decades, Tasteful Connections, the Rochester, NY-based catering company has left an indelible mark on the community it serves. “I had no idea that one of the most important aspects of building a successful business would be developing the ability to touch people’s lives with donations of food, services and money,” says Sandra Holloway, founder and president. “Sharing some of the proceeds from our efforts enhance not only the lives of the recipients, but allows the members of Team Tasteful to know that our work is important and has great value to our paying clients but also those that cannot pay.” Donating countless thousands of dollars over the 30 plus years, Holloway and her 30 employees work predominantly with organizations that feed the hungry, homeless and children. The company delivers weekly meals to the Open Door Mission, the Richards House and Asbury Dining & Caring Center, as well as monthly meals to Ronald McDonald House and the URMC Fitness and Wellness Center.
Williamsville, New York
Since 2008 T.L. Cannon Applebee’s has been helping to make wishes come true for children with life threatening illnesses. In partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation the restaurant group generated several fundraisers including car shows, golf tournaments, outdoor tasting events, a motorcycle run, holiday gift tag, star magnet guest donation campaign, and dress down days. T.L. Cannon, which has raised more than $1,000,000 (in meals and dollars) for Make-A-Wish, channels a large portion of its fundraising efforts to one organization to maximize community impact. “We chose to partner with Make-A-Wish because it was important to us to see tangible results in our communities and to make sure the money raised directly benefitted children and families in our own local neighborhoods,” says a company spokesperson. On average the granting of a wish costs about $5,000, as a result T.L. Cannon has been able to grant about 200 wishes to children in its trading areas. “As a company, we’re extremely proud to see that the dollars we’ve raised have translated into making a real difference in the lives of so many local children.”

North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina
Apple Gold Group, which is comprised of 131 Applebee’s restaurants employing some 6,000 people, makes supporting local charities an essential element of the company’s mission. Raising almost $2 million annually, Apple Gold holds its signature Flapjack Fundraiser program, an annual fundraising program benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an annual March Hoops Fundraiser for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, an annual Summer Picnic for St. Joseph Children’s Home as well as several fundraisers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The restaurants also put on a ten-day fundraiser for the Moore Public Schools Tornado Relief Fund to help students and families affected by the severe storm that swept through Moore, OK. “To ensure that the Apple Gold Group is always striving for improvements, Apple Gold has identified ‘Charity Chairpersons’ for each of the various programs,” says Mike Dixon, public relations. “These Champions lead the efforts to ensure the Apple Gold Group continuously challenges themselves to improve upon the positive impact they have had to date.”
Bistro by the Sea - Libby Eaton (Owner)
Morehead City, North Carolina

In an effort to tackle the prickly problem of the invasive lionfish on native fish stocks in North Carolina, Libby Eaton, owner-operator of Bistro by the Sea in Morehead City, helped launch a tournament aimed at bringing the species’ numbers down. “The result was the ‘If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em’ Lionfish/Lobster Spearfishing Tournament,” says Eaton. The community effort not only succeeded in reducing numbers, but also raised awareness and funds for lionfish research. As it turns out, lionfish are actually delicious, so Eaton also serves them in her restaurant, pending availability.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Carolina Ale House has deep roots in the divergent communities it serves. The restaurant group, which has 11 units, focuses on several categories of philanthropy: education, active lifestyles and healthy living, community youth organizations, family support programs, fighting hunger and cancer research. In 2013, Carolina Ale House donated more than $50,000 in time, money, resources, labor and product for charities in its local communities. Some of the specific organizations which have benefited include the Moshakos Family Teacher Education Scholarship & Fellowship, Kids N’ Community Foundation, Hope for Warriors, Toys For Tots, Backpack Buddies, Speedway Children’s Charities and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “Our philanthropy programs will continue to grow as our company grows,” says Mindy Stroupe, corporate communications manager. “We hope to one day establish a foundation and create a program in which employees will be rewarded for their volunteerism and involvement in the local community.”
Brevard, North Carolina
Dugans Pub has been giving back for the last eight years, holding four major events annually to benefit its community. Back Pack Pals, a food subsidy program for hungry kids, is one of the restaurant’s primary beneficiaries. “At this time we currently serve 1,200 children in Moore County School system,” says Alan Riley, owner. “Hunger is right here, right in front of us.” A karaoke contest kicks off the fundraising in early April. “In September, we organize, sponsor and run a charity golf tournament at one of the area’s local golf courses.” The two events raise more than $8,500. In November the pub launches its annual stocking drive, which sends fresh fruit, juice and cereal to needy kids during the holiday season. “We also include school supplies, holiday treats and something educational as well,” says Riley. In December the restaurant’s Santa, Mrs. Claus and several elves, deliver stockings to the local food bank. Virtually all of the restaurant’s 22 employees are involved. “Our staff is involved from the beginning to the end of each fundraiser,” says Riley. 
Harper’s Restaurant - Tom Sasser (Owner)
Charlotte, North Carolina

On a business trip, scouting restaurateur Tom Sasser traveled to Miami and discovered Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, a city-wide dining event which works to end childhood hunger. When Sasser returned home he contacted premiere SOS sponsor, American Express, and organized the first Taste of the Nation in Charlotte. Sasser created a collaborative effort between Charlotte restaurants and suppliers such as Piedmont Natural Gas, First Union and US Foods. The inaugural Charlotte Taste raised more than $60,000. Since then Sasser has become a committed supporter of SOS on the local, state and national levels.

Asheville, North Carolina
Giving back and paying it forward is part of the core values at 6-unit Tupelo Honey Café. Its ‘Chefs in Schools’ program is front and center in several elementary schools in all markets. The company also works with schools through its Tupelo Honey Heroes teacher recognition program. “In each market, we have a charitable partner for whom we raise at least $10,000 per year,” says Elizabeth Sims, who is vice president of marketing. The beneficiaries include Chattanooga Mobile Market, Greenville’s Mill Village Farms, Knoxville’s Beardsley Farm, Asheville’s Shiloh Community Association and Garden, Asheville’s Estes Elementary Garden of Learning and Charlotte’s YWCA. “In addition to funding, we participate in programming with these nonprofits — from mentoring future business leaders at Mill Village to Mobile Market community dinners in Chattanooga to building an amphitheater and outdoor kitchen for the Shiloh Community Association for their summer storytelling suppers,” says Sims. “Our contributions may not be Bill Gates-ian in magnitude but we make up for it in largesse of spirit.”


Pataskala, Ohio
Nutcracker Family Restaurant, a self described ‘mom & pop’ business with 33 employees, has provided more than 40,000 free meals, donated more than $35,000 and raised in excess of $300,000 for local organizations and families. “Veterans and service members eat free on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day for 16 years, with more than 20,000 meals, and $3,500 donated to the United Service Organizations (USO),” says Steve Butcher, restaurant owner, and also Pataskala’s former, two-term mayor. “Vet’s Eat Free is a normal work day with paid staff but packed all day as veterans accept our donation of a free meal, including drink and dessert,” adds Butcher. Together with his wife, Nancy, the Butchers were honored by the Ohio Department of Education for their philanthropic work as well as business leadership. “Steve Butcher’s civic leadership and contributions to veteran advocacy have impacted the Pataskala community in a large way,” wrote the department. Another cause near and dear to the Butchers is park beautification, and support to reopen Pataskala’s shuttered municipal pool. To help remedy the closure, Nutcracker provided 40,000 free meals and a $10,000 donation. Other worthy causes supported by the restaurant include a 16-year history helping families struck by tragedy, Mead-Needham Museum and a renovation of Sterling Theater.

Roosters Restaurant

Dublin, Ohio
When it comes to giving back to the communities it serves — Roosters has plenty to crow about. Last year the 31-unit chain, based in Dublin-OH, contributed more than $100,000 to a variety of causes through gift certificates, gift baskets, and cash and food donations. “We put $400,000 into the community resulting from our Fun Card fundraising program, which benefits local schools and non-profit organizations,” says Nicole Cox, director of marketing and public relations. Additionally the chain hosts the annual Roosters Charitable Golf Outing, which benefits Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Buckeye Cruise, benefiting the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research. “All of the charities and organizations that we are involved with are partnerships that we have had for many years and intend to have for many to come,” says Cox.

White Castle System, Inc.

Columbus, Ohio
White Castle, which has been rooted in the Midwest since 1921, has three areas of focus for charitable giving: feeding hunger, feeding hope and feeding dreams. To feed hunger White Castle provides more than 35,000 free meals to families who might otherwise go hungry. “We partner with food banks and food pantries in our communities, as well as forge great partnerships, like ‘I Know I Can’ program in Columbus, OH that encourages grade school kids and their families to chart a path to attend college,” says Jamie Richardson, vice president. To feed hope White Castle has taken a leading role in supporting families impacted by autism through raising awareness and donating funds for research and education. “Over the past four years, with the support of caring customers in each of our neighborhoods, White Castle has led efforts to raise more than $2 million for Autism Speaks,” says Richardson. To feed dreams White Castle believes in the power or education and for more than 25 years has provided a college scholarship program to team members and their children. To date more than 800 have been the beneficiaries of this investment.


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Robert Painter, who is a co-owner of Iguana Mexican Grill, is a board member of Other Options, which educates, provides food, housing, medicine and numerous other resources to individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. To that end Iguana and Painter spearheads several annual fundraisers, which donates more than 500 meals and raises $25,000 each year. “The staff volunteers time and money,” says Holly Larue, office manager. “Many of us have different talents that we share. We set up the trusts and organize the raffles and auctions.” Additionally the company helps its employees when the need arises. Recently a former employee was diagnosed with cancer, dying suddenly. To that end the restaurant and staff helped raise almost $30,000 for a trust fund for the woman’s son. “We hope to continue to support Jay Evan throughout his life,” says Larue. “We can’t wait until he is old enough to come and work here at the restaurant while he is in college.”
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Limeades for Learning, a program in its sixth year, is a Sonic Drive-In initiative that helps fund teachers’ classroom projects through online voting. Partnering with DonorsChoose.org, the projects submitted by teachers that get the most votes will be provided funding by Sonic. “After receiving a Limeades for Learning code with a Sonic Drive-In purchase or online, customers can visit the Donors Choose website to vote for their favorite classroom projects submitted online by teachers,” says Leah Spector, assistant account executive at Cohn & Wolfe. Over the past five years, 5,735 projects have been funded with a total of $3,540,314 from Sonic Corp., which has more than 3,500 units. “Many franchisees volunteer to attend surprise school visits, where they gather the students and faculty in a pep rally or assembly to surprise winning teachers with presentation checks for the full amount donated,” says Spector.


Bend, Oregon
For more than two decades, The Riverhouse Hotel & Crossings Restaurant has held an event that has come to be regarded as one of the best charitable events in Central Oregon. Since its inception, The Riverhouse Gala has raised about $2 million, benefiting myriad nonprofit groups such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Oregon, Grandma’s House, Sparrow Clubs USA, KIDS Center, Ronald McDonald House, The Every Kid Fund, Habit For Humanity, Tower Theater, Cascade Youth & Family Center, Deschutes Children’s Foundation and Volunteers in Medicine. “Each year the Riverhouse partners donate the facility and food and beverage for a 250 plus person, five-course banquet,” says Shannon Hinderberger, marketing manager. ‘This event is so popular with the local community that it is often sold out weeks in advance of the actual event.”
Salem, Oregon
Through Figaro’s grant program, H.E.L.P., the company provides grants to U.S. based nonprofit schools and other entities to support educational programs. “H.E.L.P. was born out of the desire of the shareholders and franchisees of Figaro’s Italian Pizza, to make a positive, long lasting impact on the communities we serve,” says Sharon Newkirk, administrative assistant. As a result of the “Great Recession,” local school budgets were slashed and Figaro’s, along with its 900 employees, wanted to pick up the slack. “It was the need that drove Figaro’s Pizza and its franchise owners to conceive of H.E.L.P., the charity which means, ‘Helping Education with Love and Pizza.”’ The 64 restaurants, which raised a total of more than $163,500, launched the program in late 2010. “As the franchisor, staff members collect and process grant applications and create briefing packets for the board of directors,” says Newkirk. “We also have four members of the staff serving on the H.E.L.P. board, who review and approve awarding of grants.” Funds have been used to purchase such things as I-Pads for elementary schools, scholarships, books, computer equipment and a new athletic track.
Portland, Oregon
On average Hopworks Urban Brewery donates about 25 meals each day to various organizations in and around Portland. The company, which has two units and 117 employees, contributes roughly $20,000 annually through its various projects. “A few of our sponsorship partners include: Friends of Trees, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Trillium Family Services, NW Trails Alliance, just to name a few,” says Bill Dickinson, general manager. One of the ways the restaurant keeps giving on a regular basis is through its Dine Out Nights, which are held monthly in both restaurants and contribute 20% of nightly proceeds to various groups. “Our staff often brings organizations to our attention which they believe Hopworks could and should support,” says Dickinson. Moving forward the company plans to encourage more employee volunteerism. “We are rolling out a new program called “the 40th hour,” in which Hopworks pays any employee one hour per week to volunteer at a charity or nonprofit of choice.”


Lancaster, Pennsylvania
When it comes to its corporate partnership with The First Tee, an international youth development organization linked to the PGA, Auntie Anne’s is in full swing to make a difference. The group is dedicated to teaching children aged 5 to 18 life skills and values through the game of golf. “Attendees learn about leadership and entrepreneurial skills, as well as franchise business-related curriculum modules that provide insight into investment, construction, training, and marketing during the 4-day forum,” says Kaitlin Nonnenmocher, public relations and social media specialist. As part of the company’s sponsorship, 50 teens participate in the Auntie Anne’s Leaders & Entrepreneurs Forum, which is held annually at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. The forum, which was created by Auntie Anne’s corporate associates and franchise partners, is already slated for the next few years.
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
For more than 12 years Fox’s Pizza Den Punxsy has been putting fires out — literally. Through its Pizza and Prevention program, the restaurant has placed more than 3,600 smoke detectors in homes as well as donating more than $210,000 in equipment. “Scott Anthony, owner of the local Fox's Pizza Den, came up with this great concept to honor firefighters and help his community following 911,” says Scott Depp, fire chief. Together with his 12 employees, Anthony was able to donate more than $50,000 in one year through pizza sales. “His staff works side by side with the firefighters to help make the pizzas and all give 110% to help,” says Depp. “There is a lot of prep work ahead of time to set this up especially the week before. Side by side we folded more than 2,000 boxes.” Additionally Fox’s Pizza Den supports Make-A-Wish Foundation, and local organizations such as the public library and pool as well as the town’s community center.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
For four years the Irish Pub has been saluting our nation’s finest with its ‘Gathering of Heroes’ event, which supports the families of soldiers who were killed in action or severely injured while on duty. The restaurant’s owners, along with two veteran Navy Seals, came up with the idea of a “celebrity,” guest bartending event to support the cause. “Some of these ‘celebrities,’ that come out to support the cause are military men and women, local district attorneys, politicians, police officers and local federal law enforcement members,” says Mark O’Connor, co-owner. The event, which raised $50,000 last year, benefited the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, an organization that gives scholarships to children of military or law enforcement personnel. Much of the planning and execution of the guest bartending event, and a Philadelphia Phillies game the night before saluting the heroes is handled by the Irish Pub’s 70 employees. “The Gathering of Heroes,” event would not be the success it is without the help and support of our staff,” says O’Connor. 
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Residents of the community of Harrisburg, PA are more than likely aware of the charitable contributions of Keystone Apple, an Applebee’s franchisee with eight units. “From Special Olympics, to honoring our nation’s heroes — our veterans, to the plight of domestic violence victims, to helping other foundations raise money such as the Big 33 Football Classic and the Ned Smith Center — we reach out to all those in our community,” says RD Frye, area director. For seven years the restaurants have provided lunches for the Mechanicsburg Middle School Honor Bus, which takes more than 600 veterans, their guardians and student organizers on an annual trek to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.  Additionally Keystone Apple supports Central Pennsylvania Blood Drives, Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties, Trout Unlimited for Disabled Veterans, and the Humane Society.
Edwardsville, Pennsylvania
David Tevet and his wife Edna, owners of Ollie’s Restaurant, were so moved when they learned how many local kids went hungry each day they decided to do something about it: fight back. To that end in 2011 they started the Dinner For Kids program, which reaches over 100 local participants who receive a total of more than 30,000 nutritious meals annually. “I started to read about the hunger problem and I found out how many children in our area either go hungry or eat junk food every day,” says David Tevet. Child services and school officials identify eligible children for the program. Meals are prepared by restaurant employees and packaged three times a week at Ollie’s and then delivered by volunteers to the children, who receive six meals each week.
Newtown, Pennsylvania
The Rose Group, which owns and operates 58 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations and six Corner Bakery Cafes, last year raised more than $1,711,600 for a variety of community organizations. “One of our main community projects we do in our Applebee’s restaurants are Flapjack Fundraisers,” says Cathi Chuck, vice president marketing and public relations. “The group promotes and sells tickets to the breakfast, provides all the volunteers to work the breakfast, and we provide the restaurant and food.” The restaurants, which offer the flapjack program on Saturdays and Sundays for a plethora of nonprofit groups, serve up unlimited pancakes, sausage, orange juice, and coffee or sodas for $2.50. “We only charge enough to cover our food and labor costs,” says Chuck. “Some of our stores have received such an overwhelming response from their community they have a six month waiting list to book a date,” she says.

Rhode Island

Bristol, Rhode Island
Employees of Dewolf Tavern are often seen in and about Bristol, RI, at various events, including the local farmers market where staff cooks and samples food for the locals. The restaurant, which employs about 50 people, also does annual fundraisers for March of Dimes, and breast cancer research.  “The staff helps cook food that is sent out on events and charities,” says Jennifer Chapman, sous chef. “Our restaurant managers are at each event for support, usually three per event. We all help set up events like the brunch for babies (which benefits March of Dimes), which is volunteer.” Moving forward the fine dining establishment looks to become more involved with the local soup kitchen.
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Community involvement and charitable giving has been a mainstay of Gregg’s Restaurants & Pubs’ culture for more than 40 years. The company, which employs 425 people, has sponsored Gregg’s Giving Tree since 1995. Each November the program facilitates Christmas gift donations, which are later distributed to underprivileged children. The four-unit chain also sponsors Gregg’s Giving Cake, which solicits money through cake sales to benefit Hasbro Children’s Hospital. To date more than $125,000 has been raised. A similar program, Gregg’s Cake for a Cure has raised more than $100,000, with the proceeds benefiting the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. “Gregg’s Restaurants has always recognized our responsibility to be an active participant and supporter in the communities we serve,” says H. Robert Bacon, owner.  “And our staff is incredibly involved in every initiative in which we participate.” Other organizations supported by Gregg’s Restaurants & Pubs include Rhode Island Blood Center, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, One Fund Boston 2013, Roger Williams Zoo “Zoobilee,” and Special Olympics Rhode Island. 
Cumberland, Rhode Island
The owner of Pamfilio’s Ristorante and Catering, Rich Paolo, is highly philanthropic and very visible in the community. Along with his wife, Paolo contributes time, money and resources to a variety of charitable ventures through several business divisions. “My wife, Tanya, and I own a national fundraising company that devotes all of our efforts to raising funds and hosting events for our clients,” says Paolo. “These clients include countless numbers of child-centered healthcare organizations, schools, sports leagues and research foundations. We have raised thousands of dollars for these clients and we contribute more than 80% of our gross proceeds to help these organizations.” Through the restaurant Paolo promotes fundraisers for a variety of causes including the Rhode Island Blood Center, and all totaled about $10,000 is raised each year. “In my free time, I enjoy volunteering at my children’s school. These activities include hosting and executing fundraising dinners and teaching Junior Achievement in several classes.”
Cumberland, Rhode Island
Working through its “Day-End” Program, Howley Bread Group donates food daily to a variety of local organizations including food pantries, churches and shelters. The 26 cafes in the Howley group supply more than 78 food pantries across three states, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Over the past 12 years the company has donated more than $7 million in funds and food. Two of the main charity partnerships the group supports are Children’s Friend in Rhode Island and the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer (CSF). Since 2009 Howley Bread has raised more than $245,000 for CSF, which uses the proceeds to help patients and their families pay other bills such as mortgages, car payments and electricity. For Children’s Friend, a group that supports Head Start and Dads Make a Difference, Howley Bread has raised more than $389,000 since 2000. “We realize that giving back is a piece of who we are, so we have to be flexible making sure it fits into our overall operation,” says Wendy Kopp, director of marketing.
Twin River Casino - Frank Martucci (General Manager Beverage Operations)
Bristol, Rhode Island

As founder of Project Broken Wheel, Frank Martucci launched a program that works with police departments and communities to refurbish bicycles and donate them to underprivileged children in Rhode Island. Since 2006 more than 400 bikes have been donated. In 2011 Martucci launched another organization, Project 86 Hunger, which makes food donations to the community shelter. Additionally Martucci served as Logistic Chair-March of Dimes Walk America, where he planned and participated in Guinness Book of Record’s Volleyball 130-hour marathon, as well as the American Cancer Society Committee Jail/Bail Fundraiser. “I can’t tell you how much money was raised nor how many hours Frank has put into his charitable efforts over the years, but I have known him to be involved in at least eight different organizations in order to help the communities, particularly children,” says his friend, Brian Rurak.

South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina
Throughout the year Roost targets several nonprofit causes including Junior League of Greenville’s Kids in the Kitchen program, American Heart Association, Harvest Hope Food Bank and Dine Out for Mom, which helps parents with life-threatening illnesses. “Roost also provides many other donations through cash and gift cards to events and fundraisers put on by organizations in our community,” says Carey Lapidus, general manager. Roost’s 85 employees are always part of the mix as ambassadors for Roost, as well as the various charitable organizations. “Our staff gets involved any way they can, as they are an essential piece to the puzzle of our community involvement,” says Lapidus. “They are always on board to help engage our customers, educating them about the fundraisers, and letting them know how they can get involved to help our community.”
Greenville, South Carolina
When a disastrous tornado struck Oklahoma the team at Table 301 worked together to help those in need, despite a distance of nearly 1,000 miles. “We decided to give back the best way we know how, “Giving by Doing What We Do Best,” says Carl Sobocinski, president. After reaching out to vendors and the executive team, employees came together to hold two brunches, which involved a coordinated effort between two of the group’s five restaurants, Soby’s and NOSE DIVE. Proceeds from the two events were donated to the American Red Cross and earmarked for the Oklahoma victims. “Through the event we were able to write a check to the American Red Cross for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado disaster for over $20,000,” says Sobocinski.

South Dakota

Dairy Queen - DeLon Mork (Owner)
Madison, SD  

DeLon Mork, owner of the Dairy Queen in Madison, SD, is beloved within his community as well as inside the four walls of his unit. Companywide Dairy Queen holds an annual Miracle Treat Day but at Mark’s store the fundraising challenge rises to a whole new level. The original challenge in 2006 involved Mark shaving his head if they sold 1,000 Blizzards. They ended up selling 3,800 Blizzards. And Mark keeps upping the ante.  In addition to raising a record $60,000 for Children’s Miracle Network, he also supports the needs of his local community. He hosted a fundraiser in 2013 to support ranchers who were affected by the Atlas Blizzard. He created DQ Relief for Ranchers and participating dairy queen stores donated $1 from the sale of burgers. He also serves on the board of the  South Dakota Retailers Association, the Dakota State University Foundation, Lake Area Development Corporation, Karl Mundt Foundation and Interlakes Community Action to name a few.

Last Spring, Mork was honored by Senator Thune for his community service efforts. 


Memphis, Tennessee
Huey’s Restaurant, which has seven units in the Memphis area, has made its frill pick contest a cause for celebration. The event, which has been held annually for more than 30 years, really occurs throughout the year. “All year long, guests shoot toothpicks into our ceilings,” says Shannon Little, marketing and events coordinator. “Once a year, we knock them down and hold a contest. The person who guesses closest how many toothpicks were in the ceiling wins a gift card, and all of the money is donated to the Memphis Zoo.” This year the festivities raked in close to $11,000. Additionally the restaurants once a year put on Soup Sunday, which is an annual fundraiser for Youth Villages. Other worthy causes supported by Huey’s include Boys and Girls Club of Memphis, Overton Park Conservancy, Wings Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, Church Health Center, and Tennessee Clean Water Network. 
Johnson City, Tennessee
Celebrating the spirit of giving, Pal’s Sudden Service, the fast food chain based in Johnson City, TN, is deeply embedded in the towns it serves. Most recently the company spearheaded the revitalization of a section of downtown Kingsport, TN by renovating a warehouse into a farmer’s market. Pal Barger, the chain’s founder donated $400,000 to rebuild a carousel and construct a roundhouse to house the project’s amusement facility for children. Additionally Pal’s served a catered lunch to more than 100 people to kick off the donation. “The company’s commitment to the community regularly benefits important and needed projects for the public, ranging from the carousel project to the purchase and construction of a community college center for automotive body refurbishing that likewise develops important job skills for a lifetime,” says Tony Treadway, president of Pal’s Sudden Service’s ad agency.


Brinker International - Doug Brooks (Former Chairman, Chief Executive, & President)
Dallas, Texas

As an amputee himself, Doug Brooks knows first hand the good work done by Limbs for Life Foundation. The organization, which is dedicated to providing fully functional prosthetic care for individuals who can’t otherwise afford it and also raising awareness of the daily challenges facing amputees, received more than $3 million when Brooks oversaw its annual fundraiser. Brooks’ leadership didn’t end there, however. As chairman of one of the world’s biggest restaurant companies, Brooks still found the time to sit on several nonprofit boards including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To that end Brooks and Brinker’s flagship brand, Chili’s, committed and completed its $50 million fundraising drive. Other organizations, which have benefited from Brook’s humanitarian bent include Kenny Can Foundation, which supports brain cancer research, and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart, a nationwide, two-year high school program that unites the classroom and foodservice industry to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s leaders.

Austin, Texas
Now in its 14th year, The County Line of San Antonio Free Concert series benefiting the San Antonio Food Bank is an annual event that brings the entire community together for a great cause. “County Line BBQ is an integral partner in our mission to fight hunger,” says Eric Cooper, San Antonio Food Bank president and chief executive. The live music series is free but everyone who attends is asked to make a food or monetary donation. Since it started the series has raised more than 614,000 pounds of food. Last year alone the concert brought in more than 114,000 pounds. The six-unit chain has been lauded for its continuing efforts to help feed the victims of hunger, who have been especially vulnerable as of late. “The rising cost of groceries coupled with the ongoing drought is impacting our community, and families are struggling to put food on the table,” says Kate Ramsey, director of community investments for the San Antonio Food Bank.
Dallas, Texas
The Saxton Group, which is the largest McAlister’s Deli franchisee in the country, holds regular fundraisers where 10% of sales are donated back to a worthy cause. Last year the restaurant group donated more than $30,000 as a result its ongoing efforts. When Moore, Oklahoma was devastated by a tornado, The Saxton Group held fundraisers at all of its 53 restaurants. “Ten percent of sales from the fundraisers were donated directly to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to help with relief efforts,” says Adam Saxton, vice president. More than $25,000 was raised and additionally more than 1,000 meals were served to first responders on the scene. During the month of October, The Saxton Group challenged employees at all McAlister’s locations to donate khaki pants to the Salvation Army. In the end more than 5,000 pairs were donated. Another organization supported by The Saxton Group is Susan G. Komen. “The Saxton Group will continue to be involved in Susan G. Komen by posting signage in the stores to promote the events along with donating food to be given out at the events,” says Saxton.
Austin, Texas
ThunderCloud Subs has been an integral part of the Austin scene for 38 years. The 29-unit chain’s signature charitable event is the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, the largest five-mile run in Texas, with more than 22,000 people participating on Thanksgiving Day. “Since it began in 1991, the Turkey Trot has raised more than $2 million for Caritas of Austin, which fights poverty, hunger and homelessness,” says Wendi Saari of the Texas Restaurant Association. The event, which raised more than $325,000 in 2013, brings out 100 staff members to volunteer. Additionally ThunderCloud is a supporter of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians Benefit Day, which started in 2006. In addition to donating 5 percent of its sales for one day, ThunderCloud approached HAAM with an innovative idea — to tag its own radio spots and print ads for the entire month before the event to spread the word, at a cost of $15,000. Also on ThunderCloud’s list of worthy causes are United Way’s Day of Caring, Clean Water Fund, Texas Land Conservancy, Hill Country Conservancy, Austin Parks Foundation and Friends of Barton Springs Pool.


Utah Del Taco - Franchisee

Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah Del’s Del Taco restaurants have a long history supporting the National Ability Center, an organization that helps more than 2,500 people with disabilities enjoy recreational experiences. Individuals who use the center have been skiing at Park City Mountain Resort since 1985 and have also enjoyed horseback riding, swimming, cycling and archery. Throughout November the restaurants collect donations through a jar on the counter or through a $1 donation along with their order. At the end of the 2013 fundraiser $30,000 was raised for the center, which raised total Utah Del support to $152,500. “We believe in everything the National Ability Center is doing and what the organization stands for,” says Paul Hitzelberger, owner of Utah Del, which has 26 units. “Giving back to those who put their lives on the line for our country is a small token of the appreciation Utah Del has for the military,” says Hitzelberger. 


Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 


Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state. 


Seattle, Washington
Inspired by the book, The Great Good Place, The Hardware Store Restaurant and 50 North in Seattle have long been committed to building a healthier community in its trading area. The restaurants were the first to partner with Eatiply, a meal-for-meal donation project where every time someone eats there, the restaurants pay for a meal for someone in need. To date the practice has generated more than 30,000 meals in partnership with the University District Food Bank. Additionally the restaurants, which employ about 90 people, host Guest Bartender Nights weekly, which provide charities an opportunity to inform the community and earn donations for their cause. More than 25 charities have participated, generating more than $10,000 from restaurant donations and patrons. Also once a year the restaurants hold a fundraiser by hosting a $500 plate charity event to benefit a local elder care center, which in eight years has added more than $350,000 to the center’s coffers.
Auburn, Washington
Partnering with Northwest Harvest, an organization that provides meals for the needy in Washington, Hop Jack’s donated 50 cents for each pint sold of its IPA or Pale Ale. By the end of December 2013, the 7-unit chain had raised more than $24,000, which purchases more than 100,000 meals. Plans are already underway for December 2014 when Hop Jack’s is planning to hold its second annual Spike’s Bikes, which is named for a general manager who bought a bicycle for a needy child and parked it in the restaurant last year. Guests began to follow his lead and 14 bikes were donated. The chain, which employs about 350 people, also is looking ahead to expand its sponsorship of Northwest Harvest by adding more beers to the selection in the hopes of upping the ante over 2013.
Mill Creek Pub Russell Brent (Owner)
Battle Ground, Washington
In an effort to support the School of Piano Technology for the Blind, Russell Brent agreed to host a painted piano in his restaurant — Mill Creek Pub — for ten days. 
“He invited local musicians in to play the piano and also placed a tip jar on the piano,” says Jeff Lann, executive director of the school. “Russell more than matched the collected tips and presented my school with a check for $1,000.” The school, which teaches blind people how to tune and repair pianos, is located in nearby Vancouver, Washington. “Russell has now offered us the possibility of having a piano in his restaurant year round with donated money directed to the School of Piano Technology for the Blind,” says Lann. Additionally Brent has donated funds to the Rotary Club, Parks Foundation of Clark County and the Rocksolid Community Teen Center. “Russell has helped us with our annual dinner auction by providing 200 affordable meals and he also went above and beyond by making sure we had linens and other niceties at no extra charge,” says Gilda Ciraulo, executive director of the teen center.
Vancouver, Washington
Over the last four years Pacific Bell Taco Bell’s owner, Tom Cook, has given more than $230,000 to Lines for Life in Portland, OR, an organization that helps at-risk teens get back on the right track. The company has also donated almost $50,000 to Boys and Girls Club of Columbus to support programs that empower teens to stay in school and graduate through college preparation and career exploration experiences. Additionally the company donated $90,000 to Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland and more than $182,000 to the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens Scholarship Fund, a program that provides disadvantaged teens with funding that helps them achieve their higher educational goals. Moving forward the company is joining other franchisees in an effort to raise $1 million over the next five years to completely renovate the BGC of Cleveland’s teen center, and launch a program to help teens transition from middle to high school.
Pacific Bells/DBA Taco Bell - Tom Cook (Owner) 
Vancouver, Washington
Tom Cook and his team members at Pacific Bells have donated more than $230,000 to Lines for Life, an organization in Portland, OR that helps at-risk teens get back on the right track. Cook has also spearheaded efforts that raised more than $182,000 for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens Scholarship Fund, a program that provides disadvantaged teens with funding to help them achieve their higher educational goals. Additionally Cook has donated generously to BGC Columbus and BGC Cleveland, organizations that support programs empowering teens to stay in school and graduate through college preparation and career exploration experiences.

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West Virginia

Nitro, West Virginia
With 50 restaurants and 1,500 employees, Gino’s and Tudor World Biscuits has a lot of interaction with the communities it serves. Each year the quick service chain gets into the holiday spirit by donating bicycles to the various municipalities in its trading area. “Tudor’s continually supports the community through this bike initiative and the community truly enjoys the gift of giving during a wonderful time of the year,” says Ray Burket, president. “The community is very excited and rallies around the event.”

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Owned by brothers Joe and Paul Bartolotta, The Bartolotta Restaurants operates a philanthropic arm entitled Care-a-lotta, which is heavily involved in local communities — to the tune of $250,000 annually. “Our mission is to support local nonprofit organizations and create platforms for awareness to help make Milwaukee a strong, vital community in which to live and work,” says Cindi McLeod, business development manager. The company, which operates 13 restaurants and employs 800 people, gives back in myriad ways including in-home chef dinners, chef’s tables, gifts of food and service, monthly gift certificates, partnerships and donations from events held at the restaurants. Some of the worthy causes which have been supported by The Bartolotta Restaurants include the American Red Cross, St. Marcus School, Pathfinders, Susan G. Komen Foundation, The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, Guest House, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 9/11 Fundraiser Dinner for New York — Window for Hope Family Relief Fun/NY Restaurant Employee Disaster Fund and Relief for Haiti.

Lake Lawn Resort - David Ross (Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations)
Delavan, Wisconsin

As a longtime and tireless supporter of local charities, Chef David Ross has been a fixture in the local community. For the last eight years Ross has been an integral part of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart. Additionally Ross participates in several annual events like Kitchen Walk, The ACF Geneva Lakes Chapter Night of Love and most recently he coordinated the inaugural Sizzling Chili Bowl, presented by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and ProStart. The funds raised have helped several local agencies such as United Way, Walworth County Resource Center and Food Pantry.

Mobile Restaurant - Katherine Channing
Whitewater, Wisconsin

As the owner of a mobile food truck in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Katherine Channing had the notion of putting a jar out with the intention of donating any tips she received to the local food pantry. “The way I see it, a person isn’t going to go to the food pantry and give them a dollar, but they will drop a dollar in the donation jar if it is made available,” says Channing. Due to licensing restrictions Channing was only able to serve about 60 people a day but, nonetheless, she did manage to raise $800 to feed those that would otherwise go without food. “After awhile, those dollars add up and essentially become enough to help feed the hungry right here in our own community,” she says. 

Palmer’s Steakhouse - Jerry Arenas (Owner)
Hartland, Wisconsin

For 30 years Jerry Arenas has been a tireless supporter and fierce advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In the beginning the fundraiser was a fishbowl at the front of his first restaurant, and now has blossomed into an annual Tent Event, which brought in a remarkable $184,915 last year and in total is nearing the $2 million mark. The Tent Event has become widely popular and annually draws between 500 and 700 people. “Attendees can enjoy delicious food, live music, an auction and celebrity guests like Green Bay Packer and Milwaukee Bucks players while knowing that they are supporting CFF’s important work,” says a spokesman. For Jerry Arenas and his wife, Marie, the work of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hits close to home. Their son, Tony was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was six months old, which was 30 years ago. Now a magna cum laude graduate of Marquette University with a double major in finance and marketing, Tony works at his parent’s restaurant and coaches a championship basketball team. “Jerry admits that initially their fundraising may have stemmed from what he now deems selfish reasons — wanting to help their own son, but things have grown so much since they have been involved with the cause,” says the spokesman. “They have been fortunate to have seen advancements in treatments and new drugs and their concern for the patients and families impacted by this disease has deepened.”

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
A new gift card fundraising program has allowed Red Mill Supper Club to up the ante on its charitable giving. “Last year, we started a new gift card fundraising program for area nonprofit organizations, selling them a $20 gift card for half price, and they resell the gift card for $15, raising $5 per card for their cause,” says Donald Thompson, owner and manager. Through the program the club was able to help Trinity Lutheran Church’s youth group and day care center, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, J.F.K. Elementary School P.T.O., and St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church. “The funds raised were used for such things as a safety fence and new playground equipment,” says Thompson. Additionally Red Mill donated about $6,500 to groups such as Project Graduation, Kids From Wisconsin, Lions Camp, The United Way, Stevens Point Area Senior High Athletics, and Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools, or SPACS.
Waukesha, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Hospitality Group, which is comprised of 38 Applebee’s and 83 Pizza Hut restaurants, makes partnering with a worthy cause part of its way of doing business. For its Applebee’s restaurants the partner of choice is Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, which helps thousands of children throughout Wisconsin. The restaurants raise funds through “Hit the Links for the Kids,” and in-store fundraising drives with a simple request made of each guest to donate $1. Over the 14 years of the partnership Applebee’s has raised more than $1,106,000. On the Pizza Hut side the restaurants’ lead cause is Camp Heartland, a child-focused organization that provides a safe haven in the form of a year round campground for children afflicted by HIV/AIDS. By selling $1 paper hearts the restaurants have raised more than $920,000 for the kids at Camp Heartland. “From simply taking care of the guests every day, to hosting dozens of fundraising programs throughout the year, to raising close to a million dollars for each brand’s lead charity, WHG and its 121 restaurants, attribute their success to the mission of always putting people and service first,” says Kristen Damko, marketing coordinator.


Sorry, this year we do not have any recipients for this state.