2019 Texas Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners

Mar 28
Restaurant Neighbor Award - State Winners

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 2019 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:

P. Terry's Burger Stand (Austin, Texas): Since 2005, P. Terry's has been serving Austin delicious burgers and fries using fresh, quality ingredients. They care about what is out there to eat, and they make their food with that in mind. Patrick Terry's original image is a classic burger joint . of the '50s and '60s, when small hospitality was the standard. They take pride in treating customers with respect, taking every chance they can to give back to their community, and ensure employees' well-being, including paying them above industry standards. 

It has been very important to them that they give back to the city that has treated them so well, so each year, four times a year, they donate a day's profits to four extra-special groups that provide direct services to the local community through their "Day of Giving". To date they have contributed over $830,000 to organizations ranging from the Capital Area Food bank to Austin Pets Alive, always culminating with a donation to the Austin American Statesman' "Season of Caring" which raises funds every year in december for twelve different groups.

This year, Austin and its surrounding community were with historic flooding, and P. Terry's sent their burger truck out to Kingsland, Texas to feed townspeople left devastated by the flooding and its aftermath. As a rule, Patrick and Kathy feel very fortunate to have P. Terry's and to have a platform to give and to foster community.

Gringo's Mexican Kitchen (La Porte, Texas): Gringo's has been serving Texans since 1996. They have full-service family dining restaurants throughout the city of Houston. Today, owner Russell Ybarra, operates 19 Tex-Mex restaursnts around the Houston area. Gringo's got involved with Camp Hope a few years ago. Camp Hope procides interim housing for Wounded Warriors, veterans and their families suffering from combat-related PTSD in a caring and positive environment. In 2016, Russell Ybarra's Home for Heroes opened at Camp Hope, allowing extra housing for veterans and their families to stay on the premises (at no cost), while coping with PTSD. Today, Russell is a board member of Camp Hope.

In May 2018, Gringo's partnered with Camp Hope to host "Pull-Ups for a Purpose." The event raised more than $100,000 for the PTSD Foundation of America and Camp Hope. 

County Line BBQ (Austin, Texas): County Line was created by Texans who love Austin and love barbecue. Their goal is to provide bbq specialties in generous portions at reasonable prices. In 2001, The County Line was looking for a unique new way to give back to the San Antonio community. Their newest location at IH-10 in the Colonnade had a patio with great tree cover; surrounded by deeply covered balconies that they knew would be a great outdoor theatre for music. They loved the idea of music that was free to patrons, but it had to have meaning, so they came up with the idea of asking all to bring food or money for the SA Food Bank. We started out small but the series quickly became the place to be on Wednesday nights. The series since then has really grown into a thing of its own with only one modification that we started in 2016: they moved the free live music series to Thursday nights.

They have always been active with the San Antonio Food Bank and its Second Servings program. They don’t just show up to collect food and donations. They have really gotten behind the series and help us get the word out about this new intimate music series. They’ve fed more than a million people since the beginning. As of this year they have raised over $106, 000 and collected more than one million pounds of food.

A 2nd Cup (Houston, Texas): A 2nd Cup was started in 2012 in Houston to raise awareness of human trafficking issues in Houston, and to develop resources that help create a second chance for survivors. It was envisioned as a place where people could organize, collaborate, and make an impact - or just make themselves at home in a modern cafe settings. One of their goals is to bring human trafficking into the light and give Houstonians the tools they need to know how to respond when they see it. Now that they are a full-fledged coffee shop, their profits go toward aftercare solutions for survivors of human trafficking. They plan to have counseling, mentoring, education, work experience, resume writing, etc.

In October of 2015, A 2nd Cup, Houston’s only non-profit coffee shop, opened its doors with a three-pronged strategy to ending human trafficking in Houston— educate the public, collaborate with partner organizations, and invest in after-care solutions for survivors. Brazen Table, a coffee and culinary training program for survivors of human trafficking, is the newest and most important innovation of our coffee and calling.

The average age of entry into sex trafficking in the United States is 14-16 years old, meaning survivors have missed out on opportunities to learn and gain occupational experience. Finding and maintaining life-giving employment after years of abuse, not only provides for the financial needs of survivors, but also serves as a means to independence and self agency so crucial to their overall healing and ability to flourish. With a well-trained staff, deep ties to the anti- trafficking community and knowledge of the food and hospitality industry, A 2nd Cup is working to fill the gaps in education and experience while supporting survivors as they rebuild their lives.

Brazen Table is a 5-month coffee and culinary training program for female survivors between the ages of 18-35. Participants learn both savory and pastry culinary skills, barista skills, and front of house basics through classroom and lab instruction. Participants are also taught job skills like resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, conflict resolution, stress management and much more. Survivor leader, Allison Franklin, had told us that, "The ability for a survivor to get a job is one of their greatest barriers to recovering." This is why we have chosen a job skills program! We believe that the best way to serve a survivor is to empower them to take hold of their own future.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit (Dallas, Texas): Since 1941, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has taken great pride in our Texas style barbecue and our commitment to the communities we serve. It is in that spirit, that The Dickey Foundation was created. The Dickey Foundation supports first responders who protect and unite our communities. Their Foundation is national but their efforts are intensely local, focusing on financial support, public education and providing the equipment necessary for the safety of first responders.

One of the many initiatives of The Dickey Foundation is Invest in a Vest, a program to garner donations to fully cover the cost of ballistic armor for police and fire departments across the nation. This imitative was created by the tragedy that struck Dallas, TX, Dickey’s hometown, in July 2016, where five Dallas Police Department officers were killed and seven others injured in a shooting at a protest held in downtown Dallas.

After a year of bringing the Dallas community together with fundraising events and due to generous, long-time donors, The Dickey Foundation and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit were able to achieve their goal. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit employees and community volunteers have had the privilege of handing out these bullet proof vests to the brave men and women that protect the community every day. Following the giving of these vests to the Dallas Police Department, The Dickey Foundation also gifted the Princeton Fire Department with vests and are looking to take this initiative to a national scale in the future.

Chili's Grill & Bar: Since 2002, Chili’s has proudly supported the lifesaving work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has remained dedicated to its mission: Finding cures. Saving children. To date, they have raised more than $71 million with the help of our Guests and Team Members to ensure that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. What started as a local, grass roots fundraising effort has turned into a long-lasting partnership between Chili’s and St. Jude. In their 16th year of partnership, we continue to emphasize the power of one crayon and one person deciding to make a difference as part of their Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign. While it may not seem like much in the moment, all it takes is on guest coloring one pepper and donating $1 to make a life-changing impact in a child's life.

To support the work of St. Jude, each year they:

  • Host our annual Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign to encourage Guests to decorate a chili pepper coloring sheet for a $1 donation to St. Jude
  • Donate our profits to St. Jude on Donate Profits Day which is hosted on the last day of the annual Create-A- Pepper campaign
  • Support St. Jude Thanks and Giving through donations on our tabletop tablet, Ziosk, where Guests can donate $1, $5, $10, or $25
  • Support and sponsor the annual St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer and The St. Jude School Program.
  • Donate $.50 of every Paradise Pie purchase to St. Jude yearlong


Find more information and stories from all winning applicants here.


Add new comment

Use your first and last name as your username.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
4 + 5 =
More information?

* indicates a required field.