Good causes prove to be great recession-busters for restaurants

Recent economic turmoil is forcing restaurants to get creative.

The saying, “adapt or perish” is true now more than ever: KFC now offers grilled chicken, Pizza Hut has pasta, and Morton’s Steakhouse has a $5 burger.

But another (warmer, fuzzier) way that restaurateurs are combating the recession is by hosting charity events, where part of the proceeds go to the cause.

Indeed, many charities also have struggled as regular givers are forced to cut back.

That’s why many non-profits are teaming up with local restaurants in a joint effort to raise awareness and fill seats at the same time.

Family-owned restaurant MiSaVi frequently hosts private parties, charity auctions, benefits and even organized a mini class reunion in a creative effort to drum up new business.

Last month in Pasadena, more than two dozen restaurants offered lunch and dinner specials all week, and then donated 10% of the profits to a local homeless shelter.

And last night in Attleboro, Mass., restaurants teamed up with a performing arts group in a charity auction to restore a local theater.

Likewise, a group of friends in Ohio were treated to a VIP chef’s dinner at the Vue Restaurant & Lounge in Hudson, a dinner they purchased at – guess what? – a charity auction.

On June 15, Patrick’s Kitchen & Drinks in Zionsville, Ind., will host an event benefiting the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Complete with live local music, artists, magicians and even a few town big-wigs generous enough to paint themselves purple and bus tables for a good cause, owner Patrick Mullen said the event “hopefully will spill out into the parking lot and down the sidewalk.”

My prediction: Expect to see more events like these in the future – where restaurants not only team up with charities, but but even partner with competing restaurants in mutually profitable ventures.

Maybe alliances are the new black?

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