When Haiti was hit with its worst earthquake in more than 200 years, the Red Cross and other relief agencies sprang into action, doing what they do best ” providing food, shelter and other lifesaving services to those in need. While these seasoned professionals were mobilizing staff and volunteers, another segment of America was also busy organizing relief efforts. The hospitality industry ” more specifically, restaurateurs ” were banding together to raise money, and solicit donations of food, medical supplies and clothing to help desperate Haitians.
Help is pouring in from franchises large and small. Fast food giant McDonald’s has pledged $1 million in aid between its corporate offices and its Latin-American based franchisees.
In New Hampshire, The Common Man group is organizing a number of “Common Effort”events to help with Haitian relief. Last Sunday, 50 percent of all proceeds at their 15 restaurants went to the American Red Cross for relief efforts. They are also sponsoring dinner and a movie, where again, 50 percent off all proceeds will go toward Haitian relief.
In our nation’s capital, Washington restaurateur Ashok Bajaj announced a month-long fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross Relief for Haiti. Bajaj will match all of his employee’s donations, dollar-for dollar. Bajaj will also be showcasing signature items from six of his award-winning restaurants through February 19; When patrons order one of the featured appetizers or main courses, he will donate one dollar from the sale of each of these dishes to the relief fund. The participating restaurants are 701, Ardeo, Bardeo, Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, Bombay Club, Oval Room and Rasika.
In Kentucky, Yum Brands, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, A & W Root Beer and Pizza Hut, will be directing $500,000 to Haiti through its World Hunger Relief Effort.
Food Network personality Tyler Florence announced through his Twitter feed that he would be donating 200,000 pouches of his organic baby food Sprouts (two full tractor-trailer loads or 54,000 pounds) to AmeriCares, earmarked for Haiti.
The Kabuki Restaurant chain, with 13 locations in southern California, Arizona and Nevada, placed donation boxes in all of its restaurants, confident that their patrons will generously donate to the relief effort. Each location serves between 500 and 800 patrons each day, and the company says that even if just 30 percent of its customers donate one dollar, they can raise a substantial amount over a two-week period.
On January 26, Gourmandise Desserts in Venice, California is hosting a cupcake baking class to benefit the Heartline Ministries orphanage in Haiti. The class is $65 and there will be a raffle of gourmet treats with proceeds going to help the Haitian people.
Dine Equity, the parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP, has seeded a Haitian relief fund with $5,000 and is encouraging team members to contribute. As an incentive, anyone who contributes at least $25 will be able to wear jeans to work for a week. Applebee’s 400 corporate stores also are planning a campaign to encourage customers to contribute to the Red Cross, by purchasing an “apple,” available at all participating restaurants. Details will be posted in all establishments, with all proceeds going to the relief fund.
Palo Santo Restaurant in Brooklyn is donating half the money that you spend there on January 31st to the Rural Haiti Project which is working to provide relief to the people affected by the eartquake.
These are just a few examples of the noble efforts that American eateries, large and small, are doing to help earthquake victims. As foodies, we can all do our part to patronize restaurants that are helping in the rescue and recovery work.
If you know of other restaurants doing similar things, please give them a little love and post it on the comments section.
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To help Haitian earthquake relief efforts, contact the following organizations:
The American Red Cross
(Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10, which will be billed to your phone)