Many restaurateurs work hard to give back to the communities that have supported them and now, TRA recognizes a select few who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. TRA is proud to announce its 2017 Restaurant Neighbor award state winners - individuals and restaurant groups who have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to serving their communities through outstanding charitable service and philanthropy. They will advance to the national level to compete for the grand prize of $10,000 to support their favorite charity or non-profit.
Created 18 years ago, the Restaurant Neighbor Award is an awards program from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and American Express, created to honor restaurants for outstanding community involvement and innovative community programs. State Restaurant Associations throughout the country select winners from their state to compete for the national award. Once selected, the state winners are forwarded to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to compete for the national awards. A panel of judges representing the restaurant industry, the non-profit community and the media then select three national winners — one small business, one mid-size business and one large business/national chain. Each will receive $10,000 to support his/her favorite charity or community project and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to receive the award during a gala awards dinner in March 2017.
“We are very proud of our Texas Restaurant Neighbor Award winners. This group embodies the true spirit of these awards, encompassing generosity, community and philanthropy in their day to day operations,” says Richie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “The Restaurant Neighbor Awards provide an excellent opportunity to shine the spotlight on those who are so often working behind the scenes to make our communities a better place.”
The Texas winners are:
Whataburger (San Antonio, Texas): For more than 60 years, Whataburger has been deeply committed to supporting communities. Whataburger’s employees, known as Family Members, are proud to serve through charitable giving and volunteerism to a number of nonprofit organizations focused on children’s charities, with an emphasis on education, disabilities and abuse prevention; cancer research; hunger assistance; disaster relief and military support. When the Houston area encountered torrential rainfall and severe flooding in April of 2016, Whataburger made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help Texas families pick up the pieces. Whataburger’s donation helped further flood relief efforts in the Houston area and across Texas. Meanwhile, 129 Whataburger restaurants across the city were proud to serve uniformed first-responders for free.
San Angelo Restaurant Association (San Angelo, TX): The San Angelo Restaurant Association has sponsored Spring Chicken Affair for more than 30 years, which is a community event benefitting West Texas Rehabilitation Center (WTRC) in San Angelo. For the last 34 years, the Association has been the sole provider of green beans, condiments, and other food needs for the event, as well as many of the event day volunteers. Since 2009, more than $372,353 has been raised through the event for WTRC.
Café Momentum (Dallas, TX): Café Momentum is a restaurant training platform that provides post-release paid internships for juvenile offenders, through which they receive intensive culinary, job, and life skills training as well as continued mentoring and support to foster successful reentry into the community. In addition to significantly reducing recidivism, they create opportunities for long-term, sustainable employment for a demographic that would otherwise continue to burden the justice system and taxpayers. Designed to increase stable employment and decrease recidivism, the 12-month Internship is their flagship program.
Blue Baker (College Station, TX): For a small restaurant, Blue Baker has donated about $20,000 per year to local charities and nonprofits since 2001. They also conduct weekly bakery tours, monthly cookie sales and sales sharing nights with local organizations, and annual partnership with the Christmas Angels program.
The cookie sales provide non-profit groups an opportunity to educate guests about their cause while raising funds for their group. An iced cookie shape is created that conveys each group’s cause. Blue Baker sells these cookies for one week and donate all profits from the iced cookies sold that week to the group.
In 2016, Blue Baker partnered with local organizations in Austin and College Station, including: The Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas, The Pink Alliance, Books & a Blanket, Lemonade Day, Bryan ISD Education Foundation, The Salvation Army, The Big Event, Fish Camp, Junior League of Brazos County, and many other groups.
The Backyard Grill (Houston, TX): The Backyard Grill is involved with several charitable organizations, but Cy Hope is our main charity that we devote our time, talent and treasure to. Each year we host the BYG BASH Golf Tourney and all proceeds go to Cy Hope. Over the past five years we have donated more than $60,000 from this event. Our staff participates in a Backpack program which delivers food to economically disadvantaged children each week. We are also a main sponsor in the Cy Hope Larry Dierker Celebrity Golf Tournament.
The Backyard Grill donates 10,000 meals each year to the children of Cy Fair ISD for recognition and awards. Each spring The Backyard Grill sell thousands of dollars in raffle tickets to help the Cy Fair Educational Foundation - which raises money to provide over $300,000 in scholarships each year to high school seniors in our school district.
Find more information and stories from all winning applicants here.