Contact: Heather Donahoe, media relations manager, 360.956.7279, ext. 137
OLYMPIA, Wash. —The Washington Restaurant Association is pleased to congratulate its 2012 Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners. This year’s three winners demonstrate tangible compassion and generosity throughout their communities. These restaurants dedicated staff time, money, effort and food for the benefit of people in need. The WRA has selected Charlie’s Safari, Canyons Restaurant and El Gaucho as the 2012 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners. Below is an overview of each honoree and their charitable efforts.
Small Restaurant: Charlie’s Safari, Lacey, Wash.—Each year, Charlie’s Safari serves a free Thanksgiving dinner to 200-250 needy families. The business closes for the day, and families are invited to enjoy the meal, along with Charlie’s Safari’s wide array of family entertainment, including laser tag, inflatables and an arcade. Children who attend are given early Christmas presents and gift cards to a local store; and each family is sent home with a bag of food. Additionally, Charlie’s Safari has donated thousands of pounds of food to the Thurston County Food Bank since 2008. More than 60 volunteers participate in this annual effort.
Mid-size Restaurant: Canyons Restaurant, Bothell, Wash.—By working on behalf of various organizations in its community, Canyons Restaurant is able to raise about $10,000 annually through its Dine Out at Canyons. Charities and community groups are encouraged to arrange special events at the restaurant, where 20 percent of the evening’s sales are donated to the group’s cause. This effort began 10 years ago, and has benefitted numerous organizations. Canyons also has donated food to local schools, as well as Habitat for Humanity.
Large Restaurant: El Gaucho, Seattle, Wash.—On the last Wednesday and Thursday of each month, El Gaucho’s staff can be found serving lunch at the Seattle Union Gospel Mission. For the past 70 years, the Mission has provided financial, educational and basic life essentials to those in need. El Gaucho’s team has prepared, transported and served these meals 24 times each year for the past six years, an effort which has fed at least 75,000 hungry people to date. In addition, El Gaucho frequently donates wine dinners, gift cards and specialty chef’s dinners for various organizations’ fundraisers.
“Each of these restaurants exemplify the giving spirit we see so often among Washington’s restaurant operators,” said Anthony Anton, Washington Restaurant Association president and CEO. “These restaurateurs understand that they are in the unique position of being able to make a large impact in their communities. We applaud each of them for taking advantage of those opportunities.”
The National Restaurant Association, and Restaurant Neighbor Award founding partner American Express, developed the award to raise awareness about the restaurant industry’s contributions in local communities across the country and to inspire other restaurant owners and operators to showcase their enormous contributions in their communities. National and state winners are selected each year.