In our fast-paced lives, it’s not always easy to take stock of our good fortune and give back. Finding the time to discover new ways to engage with our communities can be a challenge, but the efforts and rewards will prove to be time well spent.
As a restaurant owner, manager or person active in the hospitality industry, you have a perfect platform to get creative as you connect with and give back to your community. It’s not just about writing a check to a good cause. It’s about being an involved, active community participant.
As any good restaurant consulting company will tell you, whether putting your efforts into an already established campaign or creating a non-traditional community partnership of your own, guests will take notice. In the end, personal relationships will be strengthened and hopefully you will inspire your guests to follow in your footsteps … and to want to patronize a restaurant that has a heart!
But, where should you begin? Check out your local online community board, borough hall, area newspapers / newsletters for ideas.
For further inspiration, here are some great examples of hospitality companies that created successful, non-traditional community outreach programs:
Farmers Restaurant Group, the parent company of DC’s popular Founding Farmers, recently wanted to find a way to build upon their sustainable practices and give back to their local DC area educational community. So, along with VSAG, a DC-based restaurant consulting firm, they devised a plan to partner with George Washington University to build the largest known restaurant-owned urban apiary in the country. With eight beehives sitting atop the roof of one of GW’s buildings, the project’s success will allow both the students and the restaurant to benefit from the sweet end result: The honey will be used in the restaurant and potentially sold for small bottle production to support the partnership and the GW students care for and analyze the apiary and use their research to supplement their studies!
Through their International House of Blues Foundation, the mega popular House of Blues created the Blues SchoolHouse Program (BSH). Transforming their restaurant venues into multimedia classrooms (or taking their classrooms on the road visiting schools/community settings), 5th-12th grade students and their teachers gain a greater understanding and appreciation of music and the arts through BSH-taught/hosted lessons on US history, culture and inspiring social change through an exploration of blues/blues-inspired music and folk art.
Alice Waters is not only a chef, author and owner of Berkeley, California’s renowned Chez Panisse, but a pioneer for seasonally fresh, sustainable and locally grown foods. In 1996, Waters created The Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. This one-acre garden, with an adjacent kitchen-classroom, proved to be a model public school educational program that not only teaches children about all aspects of the food cycle, but also instills the knowledge and values to build a humane and sustainable future. This program has been nationally recognized for its efforts to integrate gardening, cooking, and sharing school lunch into the core academic curriculum. The success of The Edible Schoolyard led to the School Lunch Initiative, whose national agenda integrates a nutritious daily lunch and gardening experience into the academic curriculum of all public schools in the United States.
In the end, whether you partner with a local food bank, school, religious program and the like or even organize your guests to collect/donate cooking items to a local shelter, whatever it is … focus on your restaurant’s services and strengths, and build from there. Guests will take notice of your creativity and be inspired.
When it comes to finding reliable companies for restaurant consulting, search online for reputed ones who have their own websites.