It’s been another uncertain year for consumer spending, the strength of the economic rebound, the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act and food trends that may shift dining traffic patterns.
Now eateries are gearing up for the holidays, starting next week when more than 33 million Americans are expected to get some part of their Thanksgiving dinner from a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association, which also expects business to boom on Black Friday and again around Christmas and New Year’s.
In tandem with the holidays, the season for giving fast approaches, and restaurants are once again ahead of the curve. Many kicked off the fall by participating in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in September, a campaign that set a goal to raise at least $10 million this year to further the cause of making sure low-income children have enough to eat.
The effort brings attention to the social good the industry does, but restaurants’ charitable efforts don’t necessarily follow a calendar. While events like Dine Out are planned well in advance, other more impromptu fundraisers arise out of need, like the typhoon that devastated parts of the Philippines and killed more than 4,000 people at last count. While residents in the hardest hit areas were cut off from aid for days, it seemed like only minutes before donation jars went up on restaurant counters and eateries in several cities had thrown together fundraisers, including sibling eateries Cook and Twenty Manning Grill which will hold the first of three events this Sunday, as Philly.com reported.
In Hawaii, chefs got started even sooner, collaborating on the first of several planned fundraisers last weekend, followed by a sold-out dinner by Chef Roy Yamaguchi at Hawaii Kai on Wednesday, according to Pacific Business News.
Natural disasters like the the typhoon, Hurricane Sandy and last May’s tornadoes that flattened a swath of Oklahoma typically bring out a desire to help, both immediately and in the months that follow. For Oklahoma native and celebrity chef Rick Bayless, that meant heading to his home state to help create a series of pop-up restaurants in Oklahoma City. Bayless worked with a newly created group called OK Chefs Relief, whose volunteers solicited donations of local ingredients and beverages. “A hallmark of the restaurant industry and its operators has been its extreme engagement in philanthropy and charitable donations,” the NRA’s Hudson Riehle told FSR.
If you’re working in the industry, you have a sense of how much restaurants feel compelled to give back, efforts that can also serve to build a bit of a halo over your brand when the effort is authentic and part of an ongoing campaign. What’s your restaurant’s cause this year and how are you and your patrons supporting it? Tell us about it in the comments.