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These Restaurants Are Giving Back in the Most Unbelievable Ways

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Karen DeVincent-ReinboldAuthor

We all really love to eat here at Toast. In fact, one of our interview questions is, “What’s your favorite kind of toast?” So, what could we possibly love even more than supporting great restaurants?

When restaurants support great causes.

In May, we partnered with No Kid Hungry to help launch our food cost calculator, a free online tool that takes the guesswork out of pricing menus for restaurateurs.

For every email address input into the food cost calculator, Toast donated $5 to No Kid Hungry. $5 raised equalled 50 healthy breakfasts for a child at school.

This got us thinking about all of the cool examples of giving back in the food industry that really impressed us. Whether it's charitable giving or being kind to the environment, here’s just a sampling of restaurants and food businesses with extra big hearts.


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1. The Red Raven

Nestled in the woods of Acton’s Lake Nagog region, this rustic and welcoming restaurant is doing more than serving up delicious dishes. They're known and respected for their Purple Table Reservation.

“Families will know that when they make a Purple Table reservation at a participating restaurant, the restaurant and staff will go above and beyond to make sure they are accommodated. 

They will provide a quieter table, closer to restrooms. A little extra patience and attention from the staff, they will have been trained to understand different needs and how to best try and accommodate. Or perhaps special food accommodations, each restaurant will do what they can to make your dining out experience a success.

Purple Table reservations are designed for those who may have Alzheimer’s or Dementia, Autism, PTSD, a hearing or vision impairment, or anything else that may require special accommodations. When making a Purple Table reservation, you can provide the restaurant with further details. However no further detail is necessary, a Purple Table reservation is all that is needed.”

2. 12 Farms

Earlier in the month, our very own Emily Nichols gave Hightstown, New Jersey’s 12 Farms a shout-out for really embracing the local food movement. Turns out, they are just crushing it when it comes to doing good.

We recently spotted this Facebook post - 12 Farms has a “giving board” where they encourage guests to give to others, in a similar way similar to how you might pay for the car behind you at a coffee drive-thru. One line reads, “give 1st one in a Yankee hat - 1 dessert.” How fun!

3. Clover Food Lab

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Clover Food Lab is all about organic and eliminating food waste.

What makes them super unique is how they go about it. At a Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, Clover Food Lab founder and CEO Ayr Muir revealed, as noted by the Cone Insights Blog, the following:

“His restaurants try to use local and organic ingredients as much as possible. They also limit the menu and intentionally run out of food items as the day goes on to curb food waste (considering 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. goes to waste, this is a noble goal). But the real success secret? According to Muir, most of Clover's customers have no idea of the company's green mission.”

4. Rooster Soup Co.

Philly’s Rooster Soup Co. gets kudos for having goals to help eliminate food waste and give back at the same time. Their parent company, Federal Donuts, ends up with enough chicken bones to cook up about 2,000 bowls of chicken soup - weekly.

So, they opened Rooster Soup Co. to put those bones to work and serve a greater purpose.

According to Eater Philly...

Rooster Soup Co. is a for-profit restaurant; what they do with those profits, however, is what makes it such a compelling new addition to Philly’s scene.

Chefs standing in a row preparing food in a modern kitchen-1.jpeg

It’s a partnership between Federal Donuts and Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative which provides not only meals, but counseling, medical, and personal care services, and legal aid, too, to the city’s homeless and food-deprived communities. Based on the original projections, the restaurant is forecasted to make roughly $50,000 in profits in its first year — double that by 2022 — and every penny of it will go directly to Broad Street Ministry. For context, $50K roughly averages out to 24,272 meals.

5. sweetgreen


You’ve likely dined at sweetgreen already (and loved it). But, did you know they are a purpose-driven company? Here’s just a snippet of all the good they do:

  • Community: “sweetgreen in schools is our homegrown program that educates kids about healthy eating, fitness and sustainability through fun, hands-on activities. What began in 2010 as a one-week curriculum in Washington, D.C. has since grown into a series of wellness workshops involving more than 1,000 students across DC, MD, VA and NYC each year.”
  • Food Ethos: “We believe in a transparent supply chain, and we go to great lengths to work with farmers (currently ~500) who are doing the right thing. In our stores, you can see the sources listed on the wall, and you can watch us prep all the food in our open kitchens. We pride ourselves on sustainability, from store design and waste management to the food we serve. Society can’t afford not to think and eat sustainably, and sweetgreen takes steps to positively impact the food system.”
  • Mission: “Our mission is to inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food. We know that sweetgreen is a critical link between growers and consumers, and we feel a responsibility to protect the future of real food. To that end, we’re committed to supporting small and mid-size growers who are farming sustainably, to creating transparency around what’s in your food and where it came from, and to creating more accessibility to healthy, real food for more people.”

6. Rosa’s Fresh Pizza

Apparently the City of Brotherly Love is aptly named. Another Philly restaurant that we couldn’t ignore is Rosa’s Fresh Pizza.

At this pizza shop, guests can donate just $1 to serve a slice of pizza to a homeless person. They provide 50-100 meals every day. According to NPR’s The Salt, “customers — both paying and nonpaying — keep sharing their motivations and their thanks in writing. On the notes and papers hung around the shop there are messages like, ‘I just want to thank everyone that donated to Rosa's; it gave me a place to eat everyday and the opportunity to get back on my feet. I start a new job tomorrow!’”

7. Brother Jimmy's

Jim Goldman, founder of Brother Jimmy's restaurant chain, didn't sit idly by after Hurricane Irma struck St. Martin in 2017.

After a helicopter trip from Puerto Rice, Goldman worked for 30 hours to help rescue the families trapped on the island. The many people than Jim helped to evacuate to safety included his business associate Manny Almirakis, who knew their only option was to leave upon the chaos and looting that island was being subjected to.

Jim's efforts took one of the most valuable resources away from his restaurant business – time. However, he redirected that time and effort into something indisputably more worthwhile. Because of Jim's work, lives were saved.

Restaurants Giving Back

By now you are probably hungry and looking for ways to help give back at your restaurant. Here’s a couple resources to help.

  • To make the business case for eliminating food waste at your establishment, this FastCompany article should do the trick.
  • If you’re looking for other ways to give back but don’t know where to start, the National Restaurant Association has some great pointers in this article.

Download our restaurant marketing guide and learn more about how to position your restaurant brand in the industry today.

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