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Restaurants spread holiday cheer

Several restaurant companies focused their philanthropic efforts during the holiday season to benefit children’s charities. Whether through the hosting of fundraising events or the direct donations to charitable causes, Golden Corral, Kona Grill, Dunkin’ Donuts and Hospitality USA, among others, gave back to children in their communities and to national organizations dedicated to serving kids.

Golden Corral reported last month that it had raised a total of $645,000 in 2008 for Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals. That annual gift brings Golden Corral’s four-year donation to more than $1.9 million for the children’s charity. The restaurant company, which owns or franchises 481 buffet restaurants in 40 states, held community dinners, hosted golf tournaments and auctions, and sold $1 coupons to garner donations this year.

“Golden Corral will continue to increase its impact on the lives of children in their communities,” said Brian Hazelgren, chief development officer of Children’s Miracle Network. “Golden Corral is an incredible team of people who work together to help 17 million children each year at our hospitals.”

Kona Grill used a one-night opening celebration of its newest restaurant in West Palm Beach, Fla., to donate $25,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. The opening event, called “A Night to BE GREAT,” supported BE GREAT, a new nationwide initiative from the Boys and Girls Club that rewards the development of strong character in young people. Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Brad Wilkerson opened the night with a toast, and Kona Grill continued its tradition of making child attendees honorary sushi chefs for the night.

“Kona Grill is proud to support the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and their work on behalf of thousands of young people,” said Marcus Jundt, chief executive of Kona Grill. “This is a wonderful way to open our 19th restaurant.”

Dunkin’ Donuts also supported young people through its Dunkin’ Brands Community Foundation by funding Do Something, a national program aimed at strengthening teens’ development and empowering their sense of civic duty. Dunkin’s foundation will give a $200,000 grant to Do Something in 2009, in addition to grants of $110,000 to Feeding America, $100,000 to Homes for Our Troops and $65,000 to the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Do Something, which encourages teens to get involved in their communities, will use the funds from Dunkin’ to create its largest disaster relief campaign. Each week in 2009, the organization will present a teen with a $500 grant to be used toward the expansion of community emergency-response efforts.

Introduced in 2006, the Dunkin’ Brands Community Foundation has given more than $1.7 million to support emergency response organizations.

Finally, Hospitality USA, the Houston-based operator of the 221B Baker St. Pub & Grill and Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub & Grill brands, tallied a company-best $81,000 donation at its sixth annual Sherlock’s on the Green charity golf tournament. All proceeds from the event, which earned more than $6,000 more than last year’s golf tournament, benefit Child Advocates Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to help end child abuse.

Donors gave cash gifts as well as new golf clubs, fine wines and sports memorabilia for a silent auction.

“What a fantastic way to support Child Advocates in their worthy cause to end child abuse and aid its victims,” said Edgar Carlson, co-owner of Hospitality USA. “We are very pleased with the tremendous turnout and overwhelming support the tournament received from the hospitality industry.”

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